JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, is confident the sugar industry will rebound, despite the challenges being faced.
  • Mr. Stanberry was addressing a ceremony to officially launch Farmers’ Month at the head office of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), in downtown Kingston, on April 6.
  • Among the issues affecting the industry are matters of marketing arrangements; inadequate prices for exports; as well as financial challenges among sugar factory owners, which have resulted in several factories not being opened.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, is confident the sugar industry will rebound, despite the challenges being faced.

He cited exploitation of the Caribbean market as one avenue for the revival of the once booming industry.
“I think that the survival of Jamaica’s sugar industry now rests with satisfying the huge demand for sugar within the Caribbean, which amounts to over 300,000 tonnes per annum when you add refined sugar and raw sugar,” he said.

Mr. Stanberry was addressing a ceremony to officially launch Farmers’ Month at the head office of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), in downtown Kingston, on April 6.

He noted that Jamaica got so accustomed to selling sugar to Europe “for a good price,” that the country ignored the Caribbean market that could have yielded better prices.

“Even in those days when we were getting those artificially high prices in Europe for our exports, the price that the consumer in the CARICOM paid for a pound of sugar was always greater than what the European counterpart paid,” he pointed out.

Another means of ensuring the survival of the industry, Mr. Stanberry said, is moving beyond just the production of brown sugar and diversifying the sugar product to include the production of ethanol to provide fuel for vehicles; molasses to supply the rum industry; refined sugar and specialty sugar; as well as alternative energy for co-generation.

Speaking specifically to the benefits of co-generation, the Permanent Secretary pointed out that it not only significantly cuts the cost of producing sugar by reducing reliance on power from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), but it is also a major source of revenue.

Mr. Stanberry said that while it was once fashionable to call for sugar to be closed down in Jamaica, “there is no other sector that affects more people than sugar and there is no other sector from which there is such a massive multiplier effect.”

He pointed out that there are some areas which are still dependent on the production of sugar, such as southern Clarendon, Westmoreland, and northern Trelawny.

The Permanent Secretary again stressed that the industry can be turned around. “I believe that it can be done, but everybody has to play his role – those who own the factories and those who plant the cane have to increase their productivity,” he said.

Among the issues affecting the industry are matters of marketing arrangements; inadequate prices for exports; as well as financial challenges among sugar factory owners, which have resulted in several factories not being opened.