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Let’s hear sugar plan!


rhondathompson, [email protected]

Let’s hear sugar plan!

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GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN called upon to clearly articulate its plans for Barbados’ struggling sugar industry.
Mark Sealy, a director of DaCosta Distribution Ltd who was also speaking on behalf of H&G Limited which includes the Fisherpond and Easy Hall plantations, said growing sugar had become unprofitable for private farmers.
“We need to get back and have a definite policy on sugar cane.
“The farmers are hurting. They have no money whatsoever. We have come to the Rubicon and we need something definite going forward or we’re going to be totally out of sugar cane,” he said.
Sealy was making a contribution last Wednesday during the question-and-answer segment of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Meet The Minister session at Hilton Barbados.
 “It is extremely important that we understand that the cost to produce a tonne of cane is approximately $120, and that’s for the more efficient farmers.
“At the moment for the crop of 2011, private farmers were paid an average of $48. That’s approximately $72 short of covering their costs. It is obvious that this is going to cause private farmers not to plant sugar cane,” he said during the event that featured Minister of Commerce and Trade Senator Haynesley Benn.
Meanwhile John Taylor, executive director of Goddard Enterprises Ltd, said the sugar industry was “collapsing around our ears”, 20 000 tonnes of sugar being expected this year compared to 36 000 tonnes four years ago.
“Our sugar production is down to nearly half of what it was five years ago.
“Most of that sugar land is now owned by Government, so what is happening with that sugar land? What is the plan for it?” he queried.
In response, Benn said Government recognized the importance of the sugar industry and would not let it “fall through”.
“I’m surprised though that the price paid in support is $48 per tonne. I remember it was $90. When I was in the [Ministry of] Agriculture last time, it was $70,” he said.
The minister noted that Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick had recently announced some changes to the industry, and a greater role will be played by the Barbados Agricultural Management Company. (NB)

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