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Story Highlights

  • Some 80 kilometres of cane roads in the island’s six sugar-producing parishes are to be refurbished this financial year at a cost of $800 million.
  • The works, being funded by the European Union (EU) through the Sugar Transformation Unit (STU), are to be undertaken in St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and Trelawny.
  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the move is part of the Government’s push to boost productivity and “bring back the competitive edge to the island’s sugar industry.”

Some 80 kilometres of cane roads in the island’s six sugar-producing parishes are to be refurbished this financial year at a cost of $800 million.

The works, being funded by the European Union (EU) through the Sugar Transformation Unit (STU), are to be undertaken in St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and Trelawny.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the move is part of the Government’s push to boost productivity and “bring back the competitive edge to the island’s sugar industry.”

He was speaking yesterday (July 9) at the contract signing and ground breaking ceremony for the rehabilitation of 8.1 kilometres of roads from Braes River to Elim in North East St. Elizabeth at a cost of $89.1 million.

Minister Kellier said several other contracts are ready to be signed for the other projects. “As it stands right now, we have contracts for Westmoreland in two packages… in Trelawny, in St. Thomas, three in Clarendon, in St. Catherine, and here in St. Elizabeth another one called the Shed Bug road,” he informed.

Work on the Braes River to Elim roadway, referred to as the ‘E-3 Road’ is expected to get underway shortly. N.F. Barnes Construction Company Limited is the contractor for the project.

Minister Kellier said the improvement work will greatly assist the farmers, who supply cane to the Appleton Sugar Factory.

The Minister, in the meantime, said the industry is facing the prospect of a 40 per cent reduction in sugar prices on the EU market resulting from a regime change.

 

“Added to this, we are facing a 21 per cent decline in sugar production this year, largely because of low cane yield caused by the drought,” he noted.

He said that despite the challenges, the Government will continue to put measures in place to ensure the sustainability of the sugar industry, which is the largest single employer of labour and a major contributor to other economic variables.

“In terms of total exports, it is estimated that sugar’s share is some 60 per cent. In the critical area of foreign exchange earnings, the sugar sector is still the largest foreign exchange earner in the agricultural sector…with some US$100 million,” he pointed out.