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  • Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has commended Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company Limited for the US$40 million rehabilitation works being undertaken at the Frome sugar factory in Westmoreland.
  • The Minister said the scope of investment by the company has already resulted in marked increases in the levels of production of sugar, which augurs well for the industry.
  • Mr. Kellier said that the company’s investment in new equipment and infrastructure works at Frome and Monymusk factories amounting to approximately US$80 million, was a strong signal of their confidence in the sector.

Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has commended Pan-Caribbean Sugar Company Limited for the US$40 million rehabilitation works being undertaken at the Frome sugar factory in Westmoreland.

Addressing the official launching ceremony of the 2014-2015 sugar cane crop at Frome on January 29, the Minister said the scope of investment by the company has already resulted in marked increases in the levels of production of sugar,  which augurs well for the industry.

“Pan-Caribbean, which controls some 70 per cent of the industry, has undertaken the extensive rehabilitation works…and we wish to congratulate you for your efforts, but more needs to be done. We need to have more hectares in active production if we are to satisfy our potential markets, employ more labourers, earn more foreign exchange and help the country’s growth agenda,” he said.

The Minister informed that the factory in the 2012-2013 crop year produced 454,104 tonnes of cane, while in 2013-2014 just under 506,000 tonnes of cane and some 38,600 tonnes of sugar, and stressed that the target for the 2014-2015 crop of 550,000 tonnes of cane and a production of 42,000 tonnes of sugar must be met.

“Let me remind that this crop year is a watershed year for the Jamaican sugar cane industry. It is the last year in which our producers will enjoy the above-average export prices negotiated by the Sugar Industry/Jamaica Cane Products Sales Limited,” he noted.

Mr. Kellier pointed out that the sugar supply contract with Tate and Lyle for the 2014/2015 crop is US$770 per tonne and this would translate to an estimated US 35 cents per pound of sugar, and the world price has been hovering between US 16 cents and US 19 cents per pound.

“The stark reality of this situation is the impending possibility of a major price decline by next crop year.  We must face this stoutly, recognizing that the best solution to this is greater productivity and increased production,” the Minister emphasised.

Mr. Kellier said that since Pan-Caribbean Sugar took over the operations of the Frome division, it has planted just over 2,100 hectares of new cane fields and that such an increase in the production of sugarcane was shared between the estate and the farmers.

“These increases should augur well for the industry.  I note too that as you continue to modernize the factories, your scope of work this year will include the refurbishing of steam and power equipment at the factories.  Already, you have replaced seven boiler units, some of them as old as 70 years old, with newer and more efficient technology,” the Minister said.

“I also take note that you have installed a brand new 10 megawatt turbine with the capacity to produce enough electricity to satisfy internal consumption, while also generating an excess which can be provided to the national grid and I am happy that you are pursuing talks with the JPS,” he added.

Mr. Kellier said that the company’s investment in new equipment and infrastructure works at Frome and Monymusk factories amounting to approximately US$80 million, was a strong signal of their confidence in the sector and a fine example of private sector investment in the agricultural sector.

The Minister appealed to Jamaicans to be vigilant and support the sugar cane industry to grow by helping to cut down on illicit fires.

“We cannot afford to waste one stalk of cane.  We must stop the illicit burning of cane.  It is a dangerous practice that poses a threat to the industry and if we continue we will put the livelihood, not just of the farmers and the industry, but also the communities, at great risk,” he said.

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