Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, says he has instructed the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) to establish a monitoring system to ensure that refined sugar imported for manufacturing purposes does not make its way into the retail trade.
“Anyone found abusing the privilege of duty-free importation of refined sugar for the manufacturing sector, will suffer severe penalties,” he warned, while addressing a post-crop seminar at the SIA facility is Mandeville, Manchester, on Thursday (September 13).
Minister Shaw told the stakeholders that the Government has no intention of abandoning the sugar industry, which contributes one per cent annually to gross domestic product (GDP), employs 3,500 Jamaicans directly and remains the economic backbone in eight parishes and 37 constituencies across the island.
“We have a duty and responsibility to create the enabling parameters to aid the industry to emerge from its current doldrums and facilitate the welfare of the thousands of farmers, workers and their families who rely on this industry,” he contended.
Mr. Shaw said that the Government intends to “review and recalibrate, identify gaps and address them so that the industry can operate more efficiently and profitably”.
The review, he pointed out, could include changing the operational model to one where small, medium and large farmers grow the cane and the factories focus on processing.
“We are also working through Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings to reallocate the sugar lands in St. Catherine and Clarendon for lease to farmers and investors to cultivate not only sugar cane but other agricultural crops and rear livestock,” he said.
Minister Shaw said that there is high demand overseas for Jamaican castor oil, and so encouraged farmers to plant castor beans.