Heaven Wants more Invested in Diversification of Sugar Industry


Ambassador Derick Heaven, Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority, (SIA) has called for resources to be invested in the diversification of the sugar industry, for it to remain viable and competitive.
“This country cannot afford a sugar industry that is social welfare, it has to be a business,” he stated, adding that the country could not manage to subsidize the industry.
Ambassador Heaven, who was speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, said it was important for Jamaica to invest in value-added or bi-products of sugar instead of relying totally on producing sugar.
“We recognize,” Ambassador Heaven noted, “that whether or not there was a proposal in Europe (to cut the price of sugar), that the sugar industry in Jamaica could not continue in its present form and that we need to have a sugar cane industry rather than a sugar industry. In other words, not just making one product [sugar] but to broaden our income stream.and use the sugar cane, which is a very versatile crop to make a number of other things.””We don’t have to go and do research to find out what it can make; we know,” the Ambassador emphasized. “It is just a question of viability. and we are well advanced with ethanol, cogeneration and the refining of sugar.”
He pointed out that the SIA was working towards 2008 to make the necessary adjustments to diversify the industry and the proposed 37 per cent price reduction for sugar would only serve to make the process of change much more difficult.
Underscoring this view, Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke, said that while the implementation of the price cut had been delayed, a reduction in price would take place, and emphasized the importance of preparing the industry for such inevitability through diversification in value added products.
The versatility of sugarcane, Ambassador Heaven noted, went beyond its economic value, as it is one of the few crops that stood up to the onslaught of Hurricane Ivan. “The hurricane has come, he noted, [but] we are going to have a crop, everything else was flat on the ground,” he pointed out.
He said that sugarcane was a very significant part of the Jamaican economy and social life and as such should be given more precedence. “Some people talk about coming out of sugar so that the lands can be used.[but] most of those lands that were in sugar are out there still, idle.all sorts of different things have been tried, but in each case we have had to come back to sugar.”
Ambassador Heaven also called for additional investment in profitable factories, adding that some plants were operating at world-class standards.

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