- Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke has urged stakeholders in the sugar cane industry, to ensure that productivity is significantly increased.
- This will enable the country to take advantage of the regional market for raw and refined sugar.
- Minister Clarke noted that for Jamaica, the market changes in the European Union will mean greater competition from lower-cost producers.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke has urged stakeholders in the sugar cane industry, to ensure that productivity is significantly increased, to enable the country to take advantage of the regional market for raw and refined sugar.
Addressing the official opening ceremony for the 45th Council Session of the International Sugar Organization (ISO) at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay on Tuesday, May 27, the Minister said the conference is of particular importance to Jamaica, which fully endorses its theme ‘Positioning for the new market frontiers’.
“It is our intention to enhance our global competitiveness as a sugar-producing country…this conference assumes significant importance as we seek to address the issues of how we will market our sugar after 2017 when the situation in Europe will change dramatically, to allow duty-free and quota-free access to a wider pool of countries,” Minister Clarke stated.
He emphasised that it is imperative that the region, and other affected countries examine these imminent changes.
Minister Clarke noted that for Jamaica, the market changes in the European Union will mean greater competition from lower-cost producers.
“It will be almost impossible for us as a small country, with the kind of production levels we are able to achieve, to compete against those producers,” he asserted.
Mr. Clarke told the over 200 delegates from 87 countries, that Jamaica must therefore “urgently turn its attention to exploiting the possibilities in the regional market … even as we seek to increase our productivity”.
He advised that, despite the many challenges now being faced by the industry, Jamaica has realized, and continues to pursue diversification in the industry.
The Agriculture Minister informed that currently, sugar by-product, molasses, is used in the production of rum, which is another by-product, and that bagasse, is used as fuel in factories.
“The objective is to transform the industry from a single product to a multi-product one with the sugar cane plant being the base crop,” Minister Clarke said.
He added that this would see the production of other products such as refined sugar, ethanol, xanthan gum, and electricity, in the process of cogeneration.
The Minister advised that this is expected to generate “significant increases in revenue and employment”.
He said therefore that Jamaica must be confident that agriculture, on the whole and the sugar cane industry, in particular, will continue to be an important part of the fabric of Jamaican life and economy.
“It is in that regard that we as a country and with the benevolent support of the European Union, have embarked on a number of initiatives to transform and revitalise the industry which is the mainstay of many of our rural communities,” Mr. Clarke noted.
He urged ISO member countries to grasp every opportunity to bolster their collective strategies for cooperation, and to seek solutions.
Among the contingent of delegates for the three-day conference (May 27 to 29) was Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, and the immediate past chairman of the ISO.
The topics included for discussions are: energy co-generation; financing and research; sugar export markets; supporting and protecting all natural sugar/sucrose in a competitive market place; sugar cane varieties and disease control in Jamaica; and regional common threats and opportunities.