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Drought not expected to affect sugar yield - James

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2015 | 12:00 AMMark Titus
Karl James

Karl James, general manager, Jamaica Cane Product Sales (JCPS), has expressed cautious optimism that the five factories that will be operational for the 2015-2016 crop year can produce a projected 130,000 tons of sugar to meet supply commitments and satisfy the domestic market.

"We have a preliminary projection of about 130,000 tons for the next sugar crop, and we will be seeking to meet our supply obligations to Europe, the United States and the domestic market from this amount," said James, whose JCPS is one of three sugar-marketing agents.

"I think it can be done [because] what has affected us, [is] the drought, but in recent times there is some life in the canes because we have been getting some rains," he added.

Last year, Jamaica completed the final year of a three-year deal with British firm Tate & Lyle, which was valued at US$896 per ton in the first year, US$786 in the second, and US$770 in the final year for 54,000 tons, with 16,000 tons optional each year.

However, the country only managed to pen a one-year arrangement for 48,000 tons of the sweetener, with an option for an additional 16,000 tons, with the refining firm for the 2015-2016 crop year a drastic 50.02 per cent less than the payment received the previous year.

JCPS, Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company and Seprod are merchants for the six privately owned operations, which churned out a mere 134,000 tons of sugar in the 2014-2015 crop.

That amount was substantially lower than the 154,000 tons of sugar produced in 2013-2014, with all the factories falling below projections, despite using more cane. However, only five factories will be operating this year, with Everglades Farms' decision to shutter its operations.

Frome is set to kick off the season on December 27. Worthy Park, Appleton Estate and Golden Grove are set to start production in January 2016. Monymusk will get started in February.

Worthy Park and Appleton Estate will be supplying the bulk of the commodity destined for Europe. Frome and Monymusk could once again be requested to supply the 11,580 tons sent to the United States; however, it does appear that the Seprod Group could be eyeing more lucrative returns as it is planning to refine 10,000 of the 12,000 tons it has projected.