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OUTSIDE THE PULPIT: Let’s revive our sugar industry

Reverend Errington Massiah

OUTSIDE THE PULPIT: Let’s revive our sugar industry

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“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel, whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall gave them warning for me.” – Ezekiel 33:7

My favourite calypsonian, Red Plastic Bag (RPB) in one of his calypsos sang Something Happening. That may be true for some but not as far as agriculture is concerned in Barbados because in that sector “nothing is happening”. Many of our plantations/estates are not being worked.

Some workers have been sent home and are on the green paper (unemployment benefits). Those who are working are only given two and three days per week. This is the rainy season and nothing is happening.  

Officials in the sugar industry have projected that next year’s sugar crop will only produce 12 000 tons of sugar. The way how things are going we will be lucky if we reach that projection. What a pity?

This is so because of many factors. The late start of this year’s crop which started in March, the one-week work stoppage and the dry spell have convinced me that our sugar crop should start in January every year, if there is a crop in the future.

The sugar industry is affected by a litany of woes. Some plantations have not yet given any fertiliser to what little canes they have. They have not started to plant the 2016 crop. Only God knows when they will start. It is all a result of finance.

It is my feeling that agriculture (sugar) is very sick and is in the intensive care unit (ICU).

I would hope the doctors and nurses in the ICU – Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company will try their best to save it and work around the clock. Just two weeks ago, the plan was to close the only hospital – Portvale Sugar Factory. With only one factory in operation, how could you close Portvale?

I would hope that the sugar industry recovers because if it does not, then it would be committed to the grave, earth to earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. One thing for sure is that this priest would not be the one who will do the committal for agriculture is too dear to me.

With all the problems in agriculture, the manager of Easy Hall, Blackmans, Fisherpond and Andrew’s Plantations, Euston Craigg, is doing his best to bring those plantations back into production. He is doing it against the odds.