US$10m loan for cane farmers
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: PAN CARIBBEAN SUGAR Company (PCSC) Limited has signalled its intention to move into a new era of cooperation with its suppliers of raw material by announcing a US$10 million loan facility for cane farmers.
Speaking at last week's Westmoreland and Hanover Sugar Cane Farmers' Association's (WHSCFA) annual general meeting (AGM) at the Frome Sugar Estate, Delroy Armstrong, senior assistant to Dr Huaixiang Wu, the chief executive officer of PCSC, also revealed that 2,000 tonnes of its fertiliser has been earmarked for sale to its suppliers.
"We have already gotten permission from customs and have earmarked 2,000 tonnes of fertiliser for sale to you farmers," Armstrong told cane farmers at the AGM. We want to make sure that the farmers that are attached to Pan Caribbean Sugar Company will continue to enjoy the growth they have been having."
Since the PCSC, a subsidiary of the Chinese entity COMPLANT International became involved in local sugar production, the Chinese have not managed to endear themselves to local sugar interests because of the unfamiliar business practices.
The relationship between the Chinese and the locals got so frosty in the first two years after they acquired the Frome and Monymusk estates, that former CEO Francis He, who many saw as uncompromising, was replaced by Dr Huaixiang Wu, who is said to be more accustomed to the western lifestyle.
"The relationship has improved significantly," said Cleveland Keddoo, head of the WHSCFA. "There has been a lot more dialogue and there is definitely greater understanding. The kind of support (the loan facility) we are poised to get, will encourage greater efficiency, which will benefit both the farmers and the manufacturers."
According to Armstrong, the funding for a proposed equipment repair programme will be made available by mid-November, while the other committed support will be in place as per usual.
"The vision of Pan Caribbean is to become the leader in the sugar industry in the region through dynamic and sustainable development ... that is our focus," Armstrong said.