$460m for cane industry
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)†