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Fuel cane plan flops

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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BARBADOS HAS DISCONTINUED its experiments with “fuel canes” after getting some disappointing results.Chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Ltd, Dr Attlee Brathwaite, told the DAILY NATION the experiments aimed at supporting diversification of the cane industry had “reached a new stage where we are not looking at fuel cane – we are looking at a dual-purpose cane”.Barbados wants “a cane that is reasonably high in fibre and also reasonably high in sucrose, and that type of animal, if I may use that term, will be replacing the fuel cane,” he remarked.He made the comments after sugar technologist David West told industry officials and cane-growers at a meeting last Friday that the findings from fuel cane plantings were not encouraging.The initial expectations were that the fuel cane would have a higher yield than traditional sugar cane and that would cost less than sugar cane to produce, because of factors such as minimal demand for fertilisers, West said.“In fact, the yield of fuel cane was less than [that] for sugar cane and the cost of production was more than it was for sugar cane; so that the programme was drawing to a close in 2010,” he reported.As many as 400 acres were reportedly roped into the fuel cane experiment that started in 2004 by the Barbados Agricultural Management Company with a view to lending more product variety to the ailing sugar cane industry.Industry officials promoting fuel canes had listed among the encouraging features rapid growth and shorter growing time than traditional sugar canes.They said, too, that fuel cane smothered weeds and was not as inviting to pests as regular sugar cane because it was not as sweet.Brathwaite told the DAILY NATION that some of the acres used by fuel cane would be “utilised for the production of traditional canes”.(TY)