- The construction of a new headquarters is in keeping with the modernisation of the sugar industry.
- The new facility will house 20 staff members, and more than 3,000 farmers will benefit from the services.
- The construction is being facilitated through the European Union (EU) Accompanying Measures Programme.
Ground was broken at Innswood, St. Catherine, on Wednesday, January 22, for the construction of a new headquarters for the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association (AIJCFA).
This is in keeping with the modernisation of the sugar industry and forms part of the rebranding and restructuring of the Association.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, who spoke at the ceremony, informed that the new facility will house 20 staff members, and more than 3,000 farmers will benefit from the services to be offered from the new headquarters.
“This should have a significant impact, and become part of our plans to improve customer service throughout the sector,” Mr. Clarke said.
He also informed that the Ministry is now commencing an upgrade of the Sugar Industry Research Institute’s capacity, with $17 million to be spent on purchasing equipment for the laboratory in Mandeville.
This, he said, is being facilitated through the European Union (EU) Accompanying Measures Programme.
“This upgrade in our sugar research capacity will continue up to the 2015/16 financial year…as we improve and transform the sugar cane industry,” Mr. Clarke said.
The sugar sector continues to be a major contributor to the Jamaican economy. It continues to provide direct employment for over 35,000 farmers, representing an 18 per cent employment rate in the agricultural sector.
Mr. Clarke noted that in the area of foreign exchange, the sugar sector earned an estimated US$109.7 million in the 2012/13 crop year.
“In terms of total exports, it is estimated that sugar’s share is some six per cent. Money injected into the local economy by sugar is put at $62.4 million on pay day each fortnight during crop,” he added.
However, the Minister said the sector has to perform higher. “This sugar industry has the potential to produce over 200,000 tonnes of sugar. In the 2012/13 crop year, we could have done close to 160,000 tonnes of sugar if all our producers – both estates and cane farmers – performed to the expected standard,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke congratulated the AIJCFA on the relocation of its offices to Innswood, as it will bring an improved look to the organisation as well as bring members closer to the farmers they serve.