Ruddy Mathison, Gleaner Writer
CANE FARMERS in Trelawny will be able to sell their cane to the Long Pond Sugar Factory in the parish as operators of the factory move to reopen the facility for the start of the 2012 sugar cane crop season scheduled for the first week of February.
Andrew Hussey, chief executive officer of Everglades Farms Ltd, operators of the Long Pond and Hampden sugar factories, said the company has expended some US$10 million in the last 18 months to modernise the factory for the start of this year's crop season.
Hussey was speaking with reporters at the end of a tour of the factory on Friday. Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, Sugar Industry Authority's Ambassador Derrick Heaven, and member of parliament for Northern Trelawny and Attorney General Patrick Atkinson participated in the tour. He said some 150 new employees will also be brought on the payroll of Everglades Farms Ltd as a result of the reopening.
The chief executive officer said the factory saw the rebuilding of two boilers and the refurbishing of another, the installation of new motors aimed at reducing the energy output, a 100-tonne scale, as well as the complete overall of the conveyor system, and the inclusion of two new centrifugals, among other things.
Hussey said the factory will be ready to take all the cane from the farmers this year and years to come, since they are targeting 30,000 tonnes of sugar in the next five years.
Meanwhile, James Dawkins, factory manager, revealed that the target for this year's crop season is set at 8,000 tonnes of sugar to be derived from 9,000 tonnes of cane over 11 weeks of crushing. He said they were pleased with the quality of cane that they are seeing in the fields, adding that he was optimistic that the sucrose content of the cane this year is of a higher standard.
Clarke and Atkinson both expressed pleasure at the news. The agriculture minister said the assurance from the management of Everglades Farms Ltd that their objective was to reach 30,000 tonnes of sugar target overtime was encouraging. He said based on what he has seen at the factory, he had no doubt that the date for the reopening would be met.