'Sweet tale of success' - cane farmers happy with Chinese
The decision by the Chinese-owned Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) to establish a US$10 million loan facility for sugar cane producers affiliated to the Frome Sugar Estate in Westmoreland is being hailed as a positive move by Cleveland Keddo, chairman of the Hanover and Westmoreland Cane Farmers Association (HWCFA).
According to Keddo, the move, initiated by Dr Huaixiang Wu, chief executive officer of the Chinese entity, is a strategic one as it has opened the door to a more amicable relationship between the cane farmers and the Chinese.
"There is a now a much greater understanding between the PCSC and the farmers," Keddo revealed, in an interview with the Western Focus earlier this week.
"A number of the things he (Wu) has committed to were pursued, and while all has not worked out just yet, in comparison to his predecessor, his approach creates a better understanding between all concerned."
Dr Wu took over as the CEO of the PCSC last July, bringing an end to the contentious reign of his combatant predecessor Francis He, who had a strained relationship with the cane farmers.
With the cane farmers and the estate management now seemingly on one accord, Wu is confident that by the 2017-2018 crop year, the factory, in conjunction with Monymusk, which is also owned by the Chinese, will be churning out a combined 1.2 million tonnes of cane.
"Jamaica's sugar industry can reach great heights, but this will require a process. I can't say how long it will take but this will need the cooperation of everyone, and that is what I am here to facilitate," Dr Wu said shortly after taking over as CEO.
Allan Rickards, chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Association, thinks the new air of understanding between the PCSC and the cane producers can only be [good] for Jamaica and the future of sugar.
"This is an excellent decision and will be a major boost for our cane farmers ... such support means more cane, and makes our target of 300,000 (tonnes) by 2018 very possible," said Rickards.
The general mood among cane farmers aligned to the HWCFA is said to be buoyant at this time, replacing the gloom and doom of last year when the future appeared dismal, prior to the J$10 million loan facility the Chinese have now agreed to.
- M. T.