Thu | Jul 7, 2022

$70m for sugar lands

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2022 | 12:12 AM

The Government will be spending another $70 million on land acquisition and promoting alternative crop production in the Monymusk cane belt in Clarendon this fiscal year to improve the lives of former sugar-cane workers.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr made the announcement during his presentation to the Sectoral Debate on Tuesday.

This comes against the backdrop of decline in production from 519,069 tonnes in 2020 to 499,043 tonnes for 2021, with Charles insisting that sugar remains a crucial part of the agricultural sector and the local economies of St Catherine and Westmoreland, where the two remaining factories are sited.

Sugar also retains importance in parts of Clarendon, Trelawny, and Hanover.

“The Government, while continuing its support to private-sector investors in a bid to reconcile the sugar industry, is continuing with the restructuring of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) to increase modernisation and administrative efficiencies of the industry. We expect this exercise to be completed in short order,” the minister told colleague lawmakers.

Charles explained that one critical achievement to date is the reintegration of extension services and core lab services for technical support into the SIA.

“The review and repositioning of the sector continues with us facilitating the channelling of any expression of interest in the factories to the owners of these factories. Our massive strategic push to engage private investors in the transformation of former sugar-cane lands into alternative uses has been very successful through the SIA, copping several billion dollars of current direct investments,” he said.