Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Chinese mend fences with local sugar interests

Published:Tuesday | May 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC), the owner of the Frome and Monymusk sugar factories, says it is seeing encouraging signs that its relationship with local cane suppliers and farmers is steadily improving.

"Since Dr (Huaixiang) Wu took over last year, a part of his initial effort was to mend as many fences as possible, and we have been reaping some success," said Peter Armstrong, senior personal assistant to Wu, the CEO at PCSC.

"The discourse between both sides is less antagonistic and the level of adversities that we had going back and forth has diminished significantly."

The PCSC, a subsidiary of Chinese entity COMPLANT International, purchased both sugar factories along, with Bernard Lodge Sugar Estates, in a 2010 divestment deal with the Government. The deal earned Jamaica US$9 million.

The Chinese have made substantial investments in the renovation of the factories and in increasing its sugar cane production in the various cane belts under their control. PCSC recently announced that an additional $1.6 billion is to be injected into its operation over the next three years.

NON-TRADITIONAL METHODS

Since its takeover of the three factories, PCSC has not endeared itself to local sugar interests, as its non-traditional methods run counter to what the local farming groups had become accustomed to under government ownership.

"Dr Wu has made a huge difference ... I have to admit that there is now a more cordial relationship between the Chinese and the other players in the sector," said Allan Rickards, chairman of the All Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association.