Gov’t to Implement Safeguards Against Illicit Burning of Sugar Cane

Photo: Glenis Rose Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda (left), addressing a recent stakeholders meeting at Frome Sugar Factory in Westmoreland. Looking on is new Chief Executive Officer of the Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, which operates the factory, Madam Liu Chaoyu.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is embarking on measures aimed at safeguarding the sugar-cane industry against illicit fires.
  • Key among the considerations is the introduction of drone technology to assist in monitoring cultivations and detecting fires, and a major public-education campaign to heighten public awareness of the need to safeguard the industry against this illicit activity.
  • “We will be working in collaboration with the schools, churches, the Social Development Commission (SDC) and other community-based groups and organisations in launching a comprehensive (public) education programme,” Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda said.

The Government is embarking on measures aimed at safeguarding the sugar-cane industry against illicit fires.

Key among the considerations is the introduction of drone technology to assist in monitoring cultivations and detecting fires, and a major public-education campaign to heighten public awareness of the need to safeguard the industry against this illicit activity.

This was disclosed by Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, who was addressing a recent stakeholders meeting at the Frome Sugar Estate in Westmoreland.

These and other planned interventions come against the background of major fires which have ravaged hundreds of acres of the crop since the start of the year, resulting in losses totalling $600 million.

Mr. Samuda, in emphasising the need to curtail the illicit fires, indicated that the administration would move to ensure that the “best financial support” was provided to undertake the interventions.

“We will be working in collaboration with the schools, churches, the Social Development Commission (SDC) and other community-based groups and organisations in launching a comprehensive (public) education programme,” he stated.

The Minister also advised that $30 million would be spent for cleaning and repairs on cane roads, in order to facilitate smoother transportation of cane from the fields to the factory during harvesting.

In lamenting the losses incurred, Mr. Samuda appealed to persons engaging in the illicit burnings to desist, pointing out that “this is impossible to tolerate and puts the entire industry at risk”.

“You are not hurting the factories as much as you are hurting the livelihood of (the small farmers), many of whom depend on being able to reap their crops, collect their monies, pay their debts and provide for their families,” he emphasised.

Mr. Samuda said despite the challenge, the industry was expected to generate significant earnings this year.

He commended the farmers’ resilience and encouraged them to remain vigilant in safeguarding their interests.

“Despite the difficulties we face, these (illicit) actions will not succeed in breaking our will to succeed. Come what may, we will succeed… and this is going to depend largely on the hard-working farmers,” the Minister added.

JIS Social