COMPLANT International, the Chinese firm that yesterday took control of the three remaining government-owned sugar factories, says it has already invested more than US$8 million (J$680 million) in the production of sugar cane since the start of the year.
In addition, COMPLANT, through its Jamaican subsidiary, Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, has already ordered materials and spare parts valued at US$20 million (J$1.7 billion) to restore and upgrade the Frome, Bernard Lodge and Monymusk sugar estates.
The announcements, by Lin Yuting, chairman of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, came during a ceremony at Jamaica House to officially hand over the factories to the Chinese.
Noting that the company has been preparing a very detailed plan to renovate the factories since agreeing to acquire them last year, Yuting said all the materials are on the way to Jamaica and should arrive in September.
At the same time, he said a team of experts would be dispatched to the factories soon "to make further design and planning" changes.
Yuting said the restoration process could take up to four years because production will not be halted at the factories.
"So we hope in two to three years, after renovation, the factory will become more efficient and productive," he said.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who also spoke at the handover ceremony, said the improvement and expansion work to be undertaken by COMPLANT will require an investment of more than US$156 million.
In addition, Golding said COMPLANT was already exploring the feasibility of refining sugar in Jamaica.
"They have done exhaustive high-level technical studies. Those studies are now being reviewed and considered. Whether or not that investment takes place is something that will depend on their own consideration," the prime minister said.
With the Chinese taking charge of the factories, Golding predicted that the sugar industry would be transformed "at a rapid rate" and appealed to stakeholders to embrace the changes.
"None of us must delude ourselves into thinking that we can attempt to produce sugar in the same way that we have been doing for many, many years and expect any different results," he said.
"The production methods are going to have to change. The efficiency levels will have to be significantly improved. I welcome the introduction of the Chinese culture in our production process."
The three sugar factories and the lands immediately surrounding them were sold to COMPLANT for US$9 million or more than $700 million in July last year.
Under the deal, the company also secured some 30,000 hectares of cane lands through a 49-year lease agreement, which is renewable for another 25 years.