MONTEGO BAY – Mayor of Savanna-La-Mar, Bertel Moore, is appealing to persons setting illicit fires to cane fields across the parish to desist, as they are harming the industry.
"It is high time for citizens of the parish, who are engaged in these unlawful activities year after year, to understand the serious and irreparable damage to the sugar industry and to the livelihood of small farmers," he stated at a recent meeting of the Westmoreland Parish Council.
Over the last few years, a number of cane fields in the parish have been burnt by arsonists. The fires have had a devastating effect, especially on small farmers, as often, the fields are not ready to be reaped.
A total of 57 cane fires were reported during the month of December 2012 alone, and since January, the fire service has been responding to cane fires every day.
"Sometimes, the fields are set on fire when they are far from ready to be reaped and this poses a problem because the amount of sugar that is produced from these immature canes is not adequate," Mayor Moore stated.
He said that all citizens should accept responsibility for protecting the industry, which is a significant employer of labour.
"I would like all citizens and farmers across the parish to understand that if our industry does not produce the amount of sugar to satisfy the market, then other countries will take our place. This would then put us at the bottom of the ladder and we would eventually lose the market.
"As we make efforts to create more employment for our people, let's unite and protect the sugar industry as we want to move forward and not backward. Let's keep our sugar cane industry on top," Mayor Moore urged.