JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Dr. Ronald Robinson has urged sugar producing countries to increase collaboration and cooperation.
“Many of our countries face particular challenges arising from small size, geographic dispersion and vulnerability to natural disasters. These common constraints give us a unique platform for understanding and cooperation,” The Minister told International Sugar Dissemination Seminar at the Jamaica Grande Hotel on Monday morning in Ocho Rios.
Representatives of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Grouping attended the seminar which was organized by the Common Fund For Commodities, the International Sugar Organisation and the Sugar Industry Research Institute.
Minister Robinson noted that the focus on Diversification Options for the Sugar Industry in the 21st Century, was a critical theme of the seminar which provided the opportunity to exchange views and best practices and find concrete ways of strengthening collaboration across sugar industries.
“We must seek to make the best use of these exchanges as they have great potential to concretize South South cooperation. Since many sugar industry developing countries face similar challenges, what better way to move forward but to increase our own collaboration and cooperation.
“Many of our countries face particular challenges arising from small size, geographic dispersion, and vulnerability to natural disasters. These common constraints give us a unique platform for understanding and cooperation,” the Minister stated.
The seminar, he said, was most timely because sugar industries must consider all available options if they intend to promote economic diversification and social resilience on a national scale.
Minister Robinson also underscored the importance of diversification which should be done within and outside the industry into new areas of activity.
Sugar industries could no longer maintain economic viability based on the production of raw sugar and molasses as primary products, Minister Robinson said, pointing out that ” some of our sister countries have become recognized leaders in diversification to refined sugar, ethanol and cogeneration.”
He said it would be a positive and tangible outcome of the seminar if sugar producing countries were to collectively agree on the need to take advantage of the expertise that they have acquired in sugar cane production and use it for our benefit.
The sugar cane plant was undoubtedly one of the most efficient converters of solar energy into biomass which can then be converted into usable forms of energy but which, more importantly was renewable.
While noting that in principle given the techniques in molecular transformation now available to scientists and technologists, all products now obtainable from petroleum were also obtainable from biomass, the Minister argued that the challenge therefore was to develop processes to obtain these products which were economically viable.
The sugar industry must now respond to the challenges of producing sugar cane over and above that required to satisfy its existing raw sugar and rum markets and to allow diversification into other products which can replace current petroleum based industrial products.
In the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the ACP and the European Union and the global trend of globalisation and liberalization, the Minister also spoke of the importance of protecting the interests of the developing countries including the sugar industry and consumers. He also said that there were real opportunities for these countries to “use our ingenuity and creativity to spawn new, world class products and services that can compete internationally.”