Sugar stakeholders urged to work with Gov't to secure viable future for industrySaturday, November 27, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica: Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw is calling on stakeholders in the sugar industry to work with the Government to identify solutions to current weaknesses and impediments to promote a thriving sector that can meet market demands.
“Together we must find the right parameters for a sustainable Jamaican sugar industry – cane farmers, investors, manufacturers, extension workers, haulage contractors, scientists, and technologists and, of course, Government,” he said.
The Minister was addressing the 84th Annual Conference of the Jamaica Association of Sugar Technologists (JAST), which was held virtually on Thursday.
Shaw noted that among the critical issues to be addressed are increasing productivity, product diversification, good agricultural practices, and cauterisation of the illicit sugar trade. Also of critical importance, he said, is research and the application of science and modern technology to the industry to promote increased levels of production and productivity.
“We want our farmers to use the best technologies available and engage in proper agronomic practices that will result in increased yields per hectare. It is only then that our farmers will make the desired return on their investments,” he pointed out.
Minister Shaw argued that increasing production and crop yield per hectare will provide the volume of cane from which to manufacture sugar and other sugar-cane products for local consumption, as well as for use in manufacturing, leading to a reduction or substitution of imported refined sugar.
He also indicated that boosting production will have the added advantage of enabling the industry to serve not just the local market but also Caricom, which, he pointed out, is currently underserved by regional countries.
The Minister said that the Government continues to facilitate improvements in the former sugar-cane-growing communities through the provision of the necessary infrastructure, training for displaced workers in alternative livelihoods and provision of applicable technical support to boost production.
“Our goal is to have a modern and efficient sugar-cane industry. This requires the successful implementation of the strategies outlined above. We must all come together to make it work as we seek to secure a viable future for Jamaica's sugar-cane industry,” Shaw said.