JIS News

Under the signed Heads of Agreement between the Government of Jamaica and Brazilian company, Infinity Bio-Energy Limited (IBE), the company has agreed to introduce methods aimed at improving agricultural productivity and developing the local sugar cane industry.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, in a statement to the House of Representatives, yesterday (July 1), said the methods specifically include, but are not limited to: assisting farmers, through a farmers’ development programme; providing them with associated services, such as cane cultivation, harvesting, loading and transportation; developing new varieties of sugar cane, either through a research and development programme of local varieties or with the importation of suitable varieties developed by Infinity and Infinity’s partners; and increasing mechanization and irrigation, when appropriate, to levels that maximize financial returns.
Furthermore, Dr. Tufton informed that the company has agreed to “use its best efforts to identify alternatives which will promote the reduction of the price of fertilizers and maintaining such prices at no greater level than world market standards.”
Prime Minister Bruce Golding on June 27, signed the Heads of Agreement with IBE for the divestment of Government’s assets in the sugar industry, paving the way for full divestment on September 30. Under the agreement, the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) will still be managing the Government’s assets at the five sugar factories and the workers’ status will not change before the final transfer of assets on September 30. After the transfer of assets to Infinity, Government will retain a 25 per cent stake in the company for at least three years.
Dr. Tufton said that Infinity is also expected to invest in the modernization and expansion of the industrial facilities, including, but not limited to: substituting obsolete equipment; improving cane unload and preparation; improving efficiency of steam and energy consumption; automation systems; transfer technical management skills and best practices learned within the Brazilian sugar industry, in order to apply its expertise in the industry to develop Jamaican technical and managerial skills.
The Minister pointed out that through Newco or otherwise, Infinity would keep an experienced team locally and would provide training and incentives for the Jamaican professionals.
Newco is a company that is to be established to allow the Government to enter into a joint venture to carry on the business of the sugar industry until the transition period ends on September 30.
In addition, the Minister said the investors would “supply the local market with the products and volumes of sugar and sugar related by-products and will develop new products, diversifying its range of products, including but not limited to sugar, ethanol, molasses, cogeneration of energy from bagasse and bagasse pellets.”
The company will also promote and support a number of social programmes in the communities surrounding the sugar estates through the provision and maintenance of clinics, housing and sports facilities; financial support to schools and churches; and medical and dental assistance.

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