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Step in, PM

Sugar stakeholders looking to Stuart to save industry from death

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has been asked to urgently intervene to save the sugar industry from disaster.

The call comes in light of the startling revelation made last week by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, that virtually all major investors had pulled out of the Government’s US$250 million Sugar Industry Restructuring Programme (SIRP), which was set to get going in January next year.

The Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL), which represents independent cane farmers, is worried about the impact on its members, as well as the future of the sector as a whole. It has therefore joined with the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) in calling on the Prime Minister to step in.

“We have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister and I know that the union is also concerned and have called for a meeting and I am hoping we [BSIL and BWU] can work together in bringing a resolution to this matter,” BSIL Chairman Patrick Bethel told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, amid rising concerns that the industry was on the verge of death.

Officials at the state-owned Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), who are responsible for 40 per cent of the island’s sugar production, have so far reported a 9.5 per cent drop in sugar production this year.

However, Bethel, whose farmers’ association produces the remaining 60 per cent, is worried that “the hemorrhaging of land out of production is increasing” and several big players have gone out of sugar.

“The Ridge is out of production, the entire CLICO group –  all of the workers, including the managers laid off – Society, Portland, Staple Grove [and] Lowthers [are all] out of production,” he noted, lamenting that not many independent farmers were left.

He said those farmers who remained were committed to going forward with the proposed restructuring, including the introduction of new technologies for planting and cultivation, as well as fertilizers to improve yields at lower costs. However, they were currently lacking confidence and funding.

“All the farmers are despondent and discouraged at this time. I am trying to encourage them to hang tight,” the BSIL boss said.

“If you don’t have the money to pay staff and to plant, you have no choice but to go out of business,” he warned.

With the pull out of major investors, including the Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Japanese, Dr Estwick had also disclosed that an alternative loan offer had been made by the US-based National Standard Finance (NSF).

However, that offer, which was due to expire today, had not yet been approved by Cabinet.

The Minister of Agriculture had also warned that a $60 million sugar sector loan from Ansa Merchant Bank in Trinidad, was also tied to Cabinet’s approval of NSF’s offer.

In light of these developments, Bethel said farmers were still awaiting payments from the Government.

He explained to Barbados TODAY that it currently costs farmers $157 to produce a tonne of cane, but revealed that so far they had only been paid half of the $120 per tonne that had been promised to them.

“We should have had our final payment for cane all like now so. Money is running out and we are not sure about the $30 million [first tranche of $60 million from Ansa Merchant Bank]. Two things we need for the sugar industry to go forward [are] confidence and funding,” the BSIL chairman stressed.

29 Responses to Step in, PM

  1. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway November 14, 2014 at 1:38 am

    You wonder who watches all this as it was great news last year prior to closing one factory for renewal . Yes, financial market changes have happened but the government cabinet must have been aware prior of these changes and you expect to work as a team not let the Minister all of a sudden cry help

  2. Ralph White
    Ralph White November 14, 2014 at 5:06 am

    This once proud industry has been dying a slow death for many years!

  3. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne November 14, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Ha Ha.

  4. Tony Webster November 14, 2014 at 5:23 am

    No problem; consider it solved. Bossman will readily accept this small “challenge”, which will be immediately referred to a committee of wise men, meeting in a monastery high up in the mountains of Kathmandu. Caveat: wise men take their time to arrive at wise decisions. Especially if it involves VLCC’s (very large chunks of cash).
    Doan hol’ breath. Better that the two gentlemen obviousy at some small variance, should sit together over a bowl of soup. Mind you…t’ings here a bit slow since “days” gine long through the eddoes, and we cud use a little light entertainment. Alternatively- and this is my personal recommendation- we could just continue…to pray.

  5. Addison Cortlandt
    Addison Cortlandt November 14, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Lol the first few lines of this article made me lol soooo hard!!! What is he going to do?

  6. Rosanna Lewis
    Rosanna Lewis November 14, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Save what sugar industry. The industry was dead every since. Take the money and invest in other means of production. Who are we really producing sugar for when people on an international market can purchase sugar for 11 cents and we selling at 23 cents. Joke. Done away with it.

  7. Anna Bovell
    Anna Bovell November 14, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Save the sugar industry from death ? That has been dead every since. Impress me PM, Step into save whats left of the Agricultural Sector as a WHOLE and the Diary Industry from Pinehill Diary and their treachery. When is anybody going to say anything about that? All those farmers stand to lose their farms if pinehill diary continues with their replacement of real milk for powder and cutting milk quotas . Thats an entire industry that is viable about to go down the drain much to the country’s disadvantage… or am I to believe the government’s interest in that area left the building with the shares in the company when they sold them off… SMH ! Typical government , refusing to build just continuing to live off what is there and taking the easy way out relying on FDI and tourism. This country stopped building a long time ago .. for that we will suffer.

  8. Arther Lashley November 14, 2014 at 7:57 am

    NOW we see the shambles that represents Barbados Government.

    MAYBE would have been a little more sensible for the PM to have FORGONE the SOUTH SEAS SOMOAN Jaunt and the 1 million odd that cost.
    Preferably spending time on coming to a conclusion on this crucial matter that affects the lively hoods of Thousands of Loyal bajuns and large chunks of Hard Currency.

    WHY THE HELL we tolerate this ANARCHY??

    Time for a Change!!

  9. Arther Lashley November 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

    *****However, that offer, which was due to expire today, had not yet been approved by Cabinet******

    AND for your NEXT JOKE!!!???

  10. Conchita Moseley
    Conchita Moseley November 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

    King SUGAR died long time!!!!!Come again…..

  11. Mia Blackman
    Mia Blackman November 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

    He’s gonna revive it. Before this man come out and talk something sensible and good he wakes up and talk a whole bunch of crap. There’s other industries suffering such as the dairy industry and this government int doing a thing about it.

  12. GloriaHoneycomb Wiggins
    GloriaHoneycomb Wiggins November 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Really? What miracle will he be performing now? Stupseeeeeee

  13. Patrick Blackman November 14, 2014 at 9:23 am


    I don’t get it why the government is constantly talking about investing /revitalizing the sugar industry. Sugar has been dead since the 1970s but yet we persists with the crap year after year.


    Put the excess land back into real food production to reduce the import bill. What the hell is so complex about that?


    Man these fools just don’t just keep coming out the wood work by the second. GOD….

  14. Sandra Madea Straker
    Sandra Madea Straker November 14, 2014 at 9:34 am
  15. Ava Forde
    Ava Forde November 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

    sweet potaoe and beat sugar sir.

  16. Ava Forde
    Ava Forde November 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

    sweet potaoe and beat sugar sir.

  17. GloriaHoneycomb Wiggins
    GloriaHoneycomb Wiggins November 14, 2014 at 11:20 am

    lol…..Making bare sport at we Rodney!

  18. Rodney H. Greaves
    Rodney H. Greaves November 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

    No, but truth be told.

  19. Jude Willis
    Jude Willis November 14, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Tragic !!

  20. Cheryl A Rollins
    Cheryl A Rollins November 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Why don’t this man go quietly away? How about early retirement? Now that would make us all happy.

  21. Brimstone November 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Fruen, Fruen smart,,,,, he know if UWI grads cease, we got nuff workers fa de plantations, cause none ah we aint gine back to de proud fields and hills, cause he aim to sell dem too.
    De place is still Bimshire or De Erratic Madhouse

  22. Tony Waterman November 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm


  23. jr smith November 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    As like the boxite in Jamaica, and the banana industry, in others the peoples,in the west indies, must blame themselves,for laying too much trust on persons they cast they vote for.
    It becomes a matter, where everything becomes corporate, and political, then the changes come , politics play its very important , part.
    Buying a ticket for a bus ride ,doesn’t mean you would reach your destination.
    West Indians, all together , must change direction, get our culture back, stop accepting being fooled as the order of the day, we must wake up ,demand more, honesty , more truthfulness , spend more time seeking out the right man/woman for the job and not a job for the person. Time for change.

  24. Dave Crawford November 14, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    The private sector need to act like the private sector if you have an industry or business that’s not viable then time to move on .seems like the only business plan the private sector has is let’s see what government can do for us


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