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Story Highlights

  • The Government has undertaken important infrastructural development in sugar producing communities.
  • Mr. Clarke said an increase in production must be the objective, in order for the industry to remain buoyant.
  • The EU-funded projects are giving new shape to several of the communities.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the Government has undertaken important infrastructural development in sugar producing communities, with funding provided by the European Union (EU).

“We have been making some significant strides…this year we are putting in about 200 kilometres of good cane roads. Next year, and going into the other year, we have another 280 kilometres to be done. The cane farmers need good roads to haul their canes,” the Minister told the 76th annual conference of the Jamaica Association of Sugar Technologists (JAST), held on November 7 at the Jamaica Grande Resort, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

Mr. Clarke said that the EU-funded projects being implemented by the Sugar Transformation Unit, are giving new shape to several of the communities, noting that early childhood institutions have been built, and also community complexes. The unit, the Minister added, is impacting the farming techniques of the sugar industry.

“We have also delivered on the social programmes, as we have built some beautiful houses. We have looked at our basic schools and playfields; we are doing all the things that the EU said, but most important, the Sugar Transformation Unit is working with the farmers to produce more, and to produce more efficiently,” he said.

Mr. Clarke said the sugar industry will survive its many challenges, and that an increase in production must be the objective, in order for the industry to remain buoyant.

“Whatever we say, whatever we do, the price alone is not going to make us survive. Productivity has to be the order of the day. If you lift your productivity, if you lift your tonnes of sugar per acre, even if the price goes down a little, you can survive,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke informed that the recently appointed Board of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) has been mandated to make recommendation on how the cost of irrigated water can be reduced. He encouraged the farmers to invest in irrigation systems, as they are cheaper to operate, as opposed to the trucking of water.