JAST President commends Government


President of the Jamaica Association of Sugar Technologists (JAST), Ian Maxwell has commended the Government for sticking to its philosophy that the industry has to be driven by privately owned entities.
Mr. Maxwell was speaking at the JAST Banquet and Awards Ceremony, which was held at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort, in Ocho Rios, on November 12.
“The removal of preferential tariffs and special pricing arrangements into the European Union (EU) market is now a reality and the industry has been forced into marketing sugar into various markets, based on arrangements being made between Sugar Company of Jamaica and overseas buyers. We know why they had to go that route; this was in order to secure capital to finance their operations,” he said.
One of the many challenges faced in the industry, Mr. Maxell said, had to do with how they could stem the continued decline in sugar cane and sugar cane production.
“This year we made just over 122,000 tons of sugar, which is the lowest production ever. Cane production was slightly higher than last year, but due to the poor quality of canes at some estates, the sugar produced fell below the previous year’s production,” he said.
With the privatisation of the other government owned sugar factories almost complete, Mr. Maxwell argued that there is a bright future on the horizon.
“We hope that the new owners will have the financial resources to retool and modernise the factories and to pump the necessary resources into the field, in order to produce the cane, so that their operations can be viable,” he said, noting that once this is achieved, then the target of 200,000 tons will be achievable.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA), Vitus Evans said that sugar exports have fallen, and he is aware of the new developments taking place in the industry.
“I do hope that it will not be long before we start witnessing a turn around. I also remain encouraged because of the long history of the industry and I have every expectation that it will return to its former glory,” he said.

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