THE wettest January in many years has had an impact on the 2011 sugar crop which started yesterday.
Chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industries Limited, Dr Attlee Brathwaite, told the DAILY NATION consistent showers and unseasonal weather over the past month had delayed the originally planned mid-February start.
“The rain has been a bit of a hindrance. nThe fields were a bit wet and it was difficult to take our heavy machines into the field. In addition to that, if we had harvested earlier, we would have gotten a lot of water, rather than a lot of sugar, in the canes,” he said.
Brathwaite said most of the canes were processed at Andrews Factory.
“Most of the canes are grown in the southern part of the island – St George Valley, St Philip, Christ Church, those areas. Andrews really takes off most of the crop.
“Andrews over the years has been outperforming Portvale. We have committed workers at both factories, and they do their utmost to be as efficient as possible [but] for some reason or other, we have had more breakdowns at Portvale,” he said.
Work there was put on hold last Monday to allow dozens of workers to pay their final respects to senior electrician Delisle Moore, of Buckingham Road, Bank Hall, St Michael,
who was reportedly electrocuted while on the job at Portvale factory. The funeral for Moore took place at All Souls Church in Bank Hall.
“He was very involved in the industry for a number of years and out of respect, a decision was taken to halt work so his colleagues and friends could attend the service,” Brathwaite added.
In a telephone interview, general manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd (BAMC), Leslie Parris, said that although the harvesting was delayed by rain he remained hopeful for the rest of the season.
“The results have so far been encouraging, so we hope to meet our targets this year. Rain caused a delay because the ground was saturated and one of our concerns was the compaction of the soil by the machines and we were also hoping for sunshine to improve the sucrose content in the cane,” he said.
Parris said the BAMC was still in a wait-and-see mode as it was still far too early to make any definitive statements.
“We have a review scheduled and afterwards, we can fit in further details . . . to be in a better position to say more,” he said.
A source within the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, who requested anonymity as he said he was not authorized to speak to the Press, said it was all smooth sailing.
Referring specifically to Rock Hall plantation, which encompasses Rock Hall farm; Warleigh farm; Four Hill farm and others, he said they had suffered no major breakdowns and the canes “looked good”.
“We are hoping this trend continues during the rest of the week but a lot depends on circumstances such as breakdowns,” he said.
The source said rain could both be good and bad as the recent rains had resulted in a larger crop this year than last year which had followed a drought. He said the rains were not enough to further halt the start of the season.
“We had a little something last night but it was not enough to delay the start plus we had high winds. It’s the first day, I can’t say we had any problems,” he said. (MK/CA)