Don’t Write Off Sugar Industry Says Finance Minister


Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Omar Davies has said the sugar industry should not be written off and that with proper planning and management of the sector restoration could occur.
The Minister, who was speaking during his opening presentation in the Budget Debate at Gordon House on Thursday (April 16) told his colleagues that whilst in certain circumstances the decline of an industry was inevitable, there were some industries where revival was possible, if correct decisions were made through the use of technological advances, new production methodologies and better management systems. He, however, said the tendency was to assume decline could not be reversed and abandon without replacing.
He noted that a number of persons would face serious difficulties if the industry were to go under. “The sugar industry cannot be pigeon-holed, it is agriculture, it is manufacturing, it employs those with minimal skills, it employs those with the highest level of technological and scientific training,” Minister Davies pointed out.
As such he said, “Jamaica cannot afford to write off the sugar industry and it is for that reason that the Government took the decision to invest significant amounts in the five State-owned factories”. Positive results have already started to emerge, he added.
He disclosed that at the end of March, the Sugar Company of Jamaica, in this crop, had produced 86,000 tonnes, approximately 12,000 tonnes more than for the similar period last year. It has also recorded a 25 per cent increase in cane yields per hectare and a 22 per cent increase in hectares planted in canes.
While admitting that some of the results had come from external movements over which control could not be exercised, Dr. Davies pointed out that even with these influences if there had been no improvement in terms of production the positive shocks would have come to nought.
He said based on the performance through to the end of March, the company was confident it would achieve its production target for the crop, despite the serious problems resulting from illicit fires, noting that to date, such fires had caused losses amounting to approximately $135 million.
Furthermore, it is projected that the five factories would, for the first time, make an operating profit this year, moving from an operating loss of more than $500 million last year.
The projects to be initiated this year include 150 hectares of papaya at Hampden, 50 hectares of vegetables and 40 hectares of cotton at Monymusk.

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