$460m for cane industry

Dr. David Estwick and chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited Dr. Atlee Brathwaite at today’s meeting.
Dr. David Estwick and chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited Dr. Atlee Brathwaite at today’s meeting.

Barbados is to have a $460 million multi-purpose sugar cane processing facility by 2016.

This was revealed this morning by Project Manager of the Barbados Cane Industry Corporation, Carl Simpson, during the opening of a meeting which the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick held with a Japanese delegation for funding of the facility.

Estwick said the discussions, which also involved top representatives of Bosch Projects — an international agency with technical expertise in cane sugar — and the St.Lucia-based Inter-Sugar Partnership, was aimed at examining all the variables in moving towards the establishment of the venture.

He said this was a fulfillment of a recent Cabinet mandate that established a set of provisions that included raising the necessary financing for the project.

“That would be the two phases of the project. One being the field side of the project and the second being the factory side of the project, along with a co-generation facility being established,” the agriculture minister added.

“The objective would be to move the sugar industry to a high-end value-added product industry, where we look to produce alcohol, we look to produce “A” strike and “B” strike molasses, we look to produce electricity from that co-generation facility, we look to produce specialty sugars, largely for export.”

He reiterated an earlier position to ban future bulk sugar exports to the European Union, since, he said, it made no sense selling sugar at a “massive” loss to the EU.

“I will replace that with the bulk sugar production only for domestic purposes, packaging domestically and taking advantage of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy rules of origin with respect to importation of sugar within CARICOM,” reasoned Estwick.

The minister argued that once these elements were put in place, they would turn around an “ailing” sugar industry into a vibrant and profitable sector.

Estwick also acknowledged the “suffering” of the independent sugar cane growers, whom he suggested had been getting a lot of promises for a long time. He noted the lack of profitability in the industry ever since the removal of the preferential price for sugar and quota to Europe, which was replaced by a reciprocal system.

“That price has been reduced almost every two years or there about, to the point where it is essentially not profitable to engage in that type of activity any longer.

“It meant that the lack of profitability created a situation where the Government was put in a position where it could not pay the independent sugar farmers the type of cane support funding that was necessary, via, not only the cane planting scheme, but also the price †paid for them for a ton of sugar cane taken to the sugar factories.”

Recognising that many plantations would have therefore lost substantial sums of money and carried forward debts over the years, Estwick pleaded with them to “stay with us through this difficult period”.

He said he was optimistic that the Government would receive the required funding for the processing facility. (EJ)†

2 Responses to $460m for cane industry

  1. Tony Webster January 29, 2013 at 6:04 am

    The other facet of this grand Plan, (which in this presentation seems to have miraculously esacped attention), is the land-reclamation / creation of an additional 127,000 hectares of rich agricultural land, being the necessary acreage to grow the additional canes, to reach break-even point….uhmmm, financially speaking. This new land will however present some practical difficulties, since, if it is not to conflict with our tourism “belts”, cannot be reclaimmed form either the western, or the southern coasts, but will need to be sort of “added” to their eastern and Nortern siblings. This might entail reclaiming land in rather deep water, but, using the latest in cutting edge technology, little difficulty is anticipated. In any case, “plan B” can also be “put on the table” (so to speak), …this entails the use of floataing rafts, inflated with hot air, (nowadays available in great quantities) onto which rich volcanic soil imported from St. Vincent will be placed. The only real problem remaining, is the relatively small size of our local banks: they most likely will not have the space, to hold all the profits generated. Profits from vast quantities of rum and ethanol, will flow like a river to all bajans, and Bim will have to adopt a new national slogan …” “A Millionaire In Every Home”. For some deep irrational reason, this reminds one of the sage advice/caution , widely disperesed by a lovely female politician who is now a United Nations gorilliphant…who just before general elections of yesteryear, spoke out on the great dangers of all bajans who invested in off-shore drilling rights for oil. Saith she: “Do not go spending your reaped millions in profits foolishly…save some for a rainy day etc”. Please Lord…havus mercy on us.

  2. Patrick Blackman January 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I must be dreaming, does this government not understand that sugar is dead… why put all of this money back into to it again? The money would be much better spent in real agriculture like putting all those old plantation back into to production for veggies etc and cut our import bill. Man something here doesn’t smell right.


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