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The Government is committed to working with Pan-Caribbean Limited to get their sugar production back on track.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, gave this undertaking during his contribution to the 2013/2014 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 8.

Production at Pan-Caribbean Limited, comprising Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge, which constitute 70 per cent of the sugar industry, has been down by 23 per cent in comparison with 2010/2011, the last year of Government control.

“Obviously this is disappointing. If Pan-Caribbean takes the necessary corrective action, then we could see their production increase in the 2015/16 crop year,” Mr. Clarke said.

The Minister informed that despite privatization of the sugar industry, the projected production of sugar for this year is 125,000 tonnes, compared with 131,589 tonnes produced last year.

He added that last year the Complant-owned factories produced 65,000 tonnes of sugar, while this year they did 54,000 tonnes.

“Clearly, there are some deficiencies within the Complant operations. While there is some expansion in cane production from cane farmers in the area, the agronomic practices on the Complant operated farms are less than desired,” Mr. Clarke informed.

The Minister noted, however, that the other divested estates, Golden Grove and Everglades, are making serious strides.

“For instance, production at Everglades moved from 3,984 tonnes last year to 6,674 tonnes this year, and projections are for a 56 per cent increase in production for the 2013/14 crop year, based on their current expansion in cane production,” Mr. Clarke said.

At Golden Grove, production fell marginally because of the severe impact of Hurricane Sandy (in October last year). However, in the 2013/14 crop they are poised to increase by 14.5 per cent due to the expansion of sugar cane production currently underway. Worthy Park and Appleton continue to hold their own.

In the meantime, Mr. Clarke refuted claims made by the Opposition spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw that the Government had not fulfilled its obligations to Complant and was therefore jeopardizing the construction of a US$100 million refinery by Pan-Caribbean.

“The fact is that the only outstanding matter has to do with the separation of some workers from the JPS lines that supply Complant operations. This is going to cost the Government $200 million and we are working with the Ministry of Finance to see how that can be accommodated,” the Minister said.

He added that all of the technical drawings are in place, and “we are only awaiting the financing of the project.”

Contact: Latonya Linton