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Sugar to pump over $10b into the Jamaican economy - Samuda

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
This file photo shows a state-of-the-art cane harvester in operation at the Monymusk sugar estate in Clarendon owned by Pan Caribbean Sugar Company.

Despite the many problems affecting the island's sugar industry, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda says it is expected to contribute US$80 million (J$10.24 billion) in earnings to the economy this year.

He made the disclosure during his address at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 12th Regional Investment & Capital Market Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel last Wednesday (Jan. 26).

The minister, in underscoring the importance of the sugar industry to Jamaica’s economy, noted that the sector continues to be a major employer, accounting for some 50,000 jobs.

He said sugar cane is one of the most resilient and consistent crops if grown under perfect conditions and managed properly.

“It is impervious to praedial larceny and very resilient to weather,” he pointed out.

Samuda noted the need for diversification of the sector into areas such as ethanol production and cogeneration.

“It is the direction that, ultimately, we have to move in, but we must at this stage seek to do as well as we can with the production of sugar cane,” he said.

Meanwhile, the agriculture minister said there are 450,000 irrigable acres of agricultural land, of which only 12,500 is irrigated.

“There is no single greater priority to sustained agricultural development and hence economic development than the supply of adequate water to meet the needs of our farmers,” he said.

“We have decided to do what we can do to accelerate the process… to get water to these areas,” he added.

The regional stock exchange conference provides a forum for constituents from different economic sectors across the region to exchange views and create strategies to develop an environment that fosters sustained economic growth and job creation.

The three-day conference, from January 24 to 26, welcomed approximately 500 leaders, industry experts and sponsors from across the region and globally. (JIS)