$200m sweetener for St Thomas sugar workers
Cane farmers and sugar workers who were once employed by the recently shuttered Golden Grove Sugar Factory in St Thomas are to benefit from a $200-million grant from the Government.
The announcement was made by Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw, who was speaking at a meeting held between stakeholders and ex-workers at the old factory in Duckenfield on Friday.
Sugar farmers had gathered at the entrance of the old factory just days before to bemoan what they described as an uncertain future. In addition to not being fully briefed, the farmers revealed that they were yet to receive any compensation.
Addressing these concerns, Shaw warned the expectant workers that only a portion of the approved sum would be disbursed as compensation in February.
The rest, he noted, was to be used as an investment into the future of each worker.
“I’m telling you from now that $200million is not going to be put in your hand for you to go to the shop. It will go into your hand to go into the ground because handing out money just to carry you to next week and to next month is not going to solve the problem,” said Shaw.
He said that the majority of the funds would be distributed in the form of inputs such as fertiliser, seeds, and livestock. Beneficiaries will include cane cutters, workers whose jobs have been made redundant, and small farmers in need of supplementary assistance.
The minister also appealed to farmers who may require additional acreage to send in their applications.
“We realise you’re in a crisis, and we as a government must find ways to help you,” Shaw added.