Andrews to grind alone in 2013
ANDREWS WILL BE Barbados’ lone sugar factory in two years, as a new course is charted for Barbados’ floundering sugar industry.
Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick said yesterday there were plans to retrofit the St Joseph factory at a cost of close to $200 million.
“We are looking to transform the sugar industry into a sugar cane industry . . . and for all the value-added products that we can get out of the sugar-cane plant,” Estwick explained while touring a number of agricultural sites and the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre at Vaucluse yesterday.
He stressed the marketing strategy for sugar and sugar-cane products must change from one based on “preferential treatment on the international market and the European Union” to a focus on the regional and domestic market “in terms of value-added”.
Estwick claimed Barbados could not continue to export bulk sugar since the Economic Partnership Agreement was?“driving down the revenue”.
He said therefore a new marketing strategy becomes “critical” to maintaining a viable feed stock in Barbados.
Estwick referred to two studies commissioned by Government which led him to conclude that producing ethanol from sugar cane could save Barbados about US$23 million to US$30 million per year in foreign exchange.
The studies also indicated the island could move to increase production of specialty sugars whose export potential has been growing significantly and for which there was currently high demand and greater potential in the diaspora markets.
Exports of specialty sugars are already close to the 3 000-ton mark for this financial year.
“Those two products alone have significant potential, but we are also going to produce electricity to the grid and we will still produce significant bulk sugar,” Estwick said in reference to the proposals for the transformation of Andrews.
He said the retrofitting of that factory would be done during the off season, while Portvale Sugar Factory would continue operations in the interim to take off some of the load during the period of retrofitting.
“The objective in the two-year period for Andrews would [be to] allow us to introduce the necessary modifications and the technology in relation to the ethanol production and to create electricity via generation systems,” Estwick said.
He added: “I believe that is going to turn the sugar industry in Barbados into a sugar-cane industry and stabilize the sector.”