An agency agreement has been signed between the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) and COMPLANT/Pan Caribbean Sugar Company Limited, to sustain the viability of the sugar industry.
The agreement gives Pan Caribbean the right to market its own sugar, under the provisions of the Sugar Industry Control Act.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, explained that for the next three crop years, “the rest of the industry will continue to pool their sugar in order to satisfy an agreement to supply Tate and Lyle of Britain with a specified quantity of sugar."
This include the remaining two sugar estates, which were not taken over by COMPLANT (of China), as well as other planters affiliated to the Jamaica Cane Farmers Association, the Minister noted.
Mr. Clarke was speaking on Tuesday at the signing of the agreement at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road offices.
He assured cane farmers that this dual arrangement in the marketing of sugar would in no way put them at a disadvantage. “The agency agreement makes adequate provision for the Sugar Industry Authority to independently verify the authenticity of whatever proceeds will be declared by Pan Caribbean. It is also the case that Pan Caribbean will be obliged to utilise the existing cane payment formula,” the Minister said.
Mr. Clarke noted the concerns of cane farmers in relation to Pan Caribbean selling their sugar at the best possible price, pointing out that this is attainable as payment for cane is linked to the price obtained by Pan Caribbean on the world market. “In this regard, Pan Caribbean has outlined specific proposals to allow for transparent and direct consultation with the cane farmers in relation to the marketing of its sugar,” he informed.
The Minister said he fully expects that the proposal agreed to by Pan Caribbean and the Cane Farmers Association will become a formal one shortly.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Pan-Caribbean, Francis He, added his assurance that the best prices will be fetched for registered farmers, and gave an undertaking to work with the Cane Farmers Association to arrive at a mechanism that is transparent, efficient, and cost-effective.
In his remarks, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica, His Excellency Zheng Quindian, noted that since Pan Caribbean took over three sugar estates (Frome, Monymusk, and Bernard Lodge) last August, parent company COMPLANT has managed to mobilise human resources and assets, and bring significant investment to Jamaica through equipping, revamping and upgrading the facilities.
“At present, the company is planning for factory upgrading and the construction of a new factory. It is also planning to select high calibre employees to go to China for training, so as to gradually nurture its own team of local managers and engineers,” he informed.
Ambassador Zheng noted that Pan Caribbean has so far created over 2,000 jobs for Jamaicans, while strengthening the industry.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter