Save industry

Farmer says sugar cane sector is at a roundabout

A local farmer is calling on authorities to save the sugar cane industry and diversify it.

Carlyle Brathwaite, who is president of the Barbados Egg & Poultry Producers’ Association, said he believed the industry was at “a roundabout” and it was time a decision was made on what direction it would take.

The amount of sugar cane harvested annually has been on the decline over the years and the Government had planned to restructure the industry, but there has been little movement to date.

Farmer Carlyle Brathwaite says it’s important to maintain the sugar industry.
Farmer Carlyle Brathwaite says it’s important to maintain the sugar industry.

“It is at a roundabout. You are not certain if it is going to continue around the roundabout or where it is going to shift off. If it shifts to producing sugar and other by-products it can make itself profitable,” he said.

“It is a Barbados industry and . . . I feel that we should have that pride to be able to be happy to see a Barbadian product on the market.”

Adding that it would take “quite a bit of money” to transform the industry, Brathwaite said it would also require “the right people in place to manage it properly”.

The farmer of over 49 years said it was important to maintain the industry, given its economic prospects.

“I would tell you there is a need to keep it. It has value,” he said.

“It would be better to have a sugar cane industry that you can then take and change it into having other byproducts from the cane and not to have a sugar industry that we had before.”

Brathwaite pointed to Cuba, which has a vibrant sugar cane industry, as a model for Barbados to follow.

“We can copy a bit of information . . . on how you do these things. The same way we can take lecithin out of soybean oil . . . and you would have your soya, your oil and the lecithin, we can do the same thing with sugar cane. We can make rum directly from the juice instead of having to go and break it down and rebuild it to make rum. You can take it and put it straight into having the rum product distilled from it, which is done in Jamaica and other places,” he said.

Brathwaite said he would be waiting and watching closely to see what direction Government would take.

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