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Kellier says sugar stakeholders should have been better prepared

Published:Friday | November 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier is blaming local stakeholders for the unpreparedness of the sugar industry to meet the new global sugar regime, which takes effect in 2016.

Speaking at the 78th annual conference of the Jamaica Association of Sugar Technologists (JAST) in Ocho Rios, St Ann, yesterday, the agriculture minister said the strategy of relying on sending raw sugar to refineries in Europe is dead and that the survival of the sugar industry lies in diversification.

"There is no doubt that we are met today at a watershed moment in the history of the sugar industry; however, no one in this room can genuinely claim to be surprised at the reality that confronts us, namely, that next year, we will be earning from sugar exports, a price that is approximately 30-40 per cent lower than what we are currently enjoying," said Kellier.

"Indeed, the prices we have received for export to Europe over the last four years, including the current crop year, are the highest that the industry has ever enjoyed in its history. Frankly speaking, like Joseph in Egypt, we should have been using the last four years of plenty to prepare for next year when lower prices loom," continued Kellier.