JIS News

The Frome Sugar Factory in Westmoreland is experimenting with green cane harvesting to increase yield and to cut down on losses as a result of burning.
The exercise is now on in earnest, with some 100 cane cutters employed by the factory reaping the mature canes without the use of fire. Several farmers and top management personnel of the estate are hailing this method as the way forward for the struggling sugar industry, with the potential for increased profit.
Greater demand for sugar processed from green cane has also been made by the European Union, Jamaica’s chief market for the product, which has specified that all sugar to be purchased must be derived from green cane, come 2010.
According to Vice President of Operations for the Sugar Company of Jamaica’s Frome Division, Aston Smith, the harvesting of green cane is the way to go for the factory as this method will result in greater yield and less manufacturing cost by the factory.
Mr. Smith, who spoke to JIS News during a recent tour of cane lands, said that the experiment, which started about two weeks ago, is going well. “We invited about 15 cutters to demonstrate how the green cane harvesting is done and it has caught on so well that there are approximately 100 cutters, who have voluntarily decided to cut green cane, and it’s going on very well,” he stated.
He noted that “this method of harvesting canes has added benefits such as improved quality to the factory, less damage to the environment, so ultimately this has to be the way for the sugar industry to go in terms of harvesting.” According to Mr. Smith, the returns in terms of the yield and sugar quality, more than justify the increase paid to farmers, who cut the green cane rather than the burnt cane. “In fact, not burning the cane, the re-growth would be better with the trash to cover the roots, resulting in better growth and less weeds, so our chemical use in terms of reducing weeds would be reduced significantly and this augers well for the sugar industry. I just hope that those who see what is happening here will understand that this will only redound to the benefit of the industry,” he stated. He further expressed confidence in reaching and even exceeding this year’s target of 51,249 tons of sugar from 625,000 tons of cane. Lucius Jackson, a large cane farmer attached to the Frome Sugar Factory, told JIS News that he is in full support of reaping green canes. “I am totally for the harvesting of green canes and believe that this is the way to go in the industry. The truth is that green cane cost the factory less energy to process as against the burnt cane and the other thing is within three to four days, the burnt cane starts to spoil and the green cane will last up to six days and the juice stands up just the same,” he pointed out.

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