JIS News

Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derrick Heaven said Jamaica would need approximately US$200 million to get its sugar diversification programme off the ground.
Ambassador Heaven, who spoke to JIS News in London recently, said that, “the industry has been working assiduously to put in place a proposal to deal with a diversified sugar industry, which recognizes the significant potential of the sugar cane as a raw material for making other products besides sugar. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes, and all that is now awaited is some decision to implement. We hope that there will not be delays in seeking to implement.”
He informed, that industry stakeholders had identified a number of feasible options and the three most favoured were the manufacture of ethanol, sugar refining and the use of bagasse for cogeneration. He said that the industry also recognized the significance of rum manufacturing and will be expanding production in this area as well.
To achieve the goals, priority will be given to increasing the supply of cane to about 3.5 million tons annually, Ambassador Heaven indicated. “The first priority of the industry must be to increase the supply of cane in an efficient manner that will make all those things possible. Without improving cane supply, then the hopes and aspirations surrounding diversification in the industry will not be possible”, he stated.
The process to advance the diversification of the sugar industry comes as the European Union plans to cut the price of sugar from African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States by 39 per cent over two years from 2006-2008. Jamaica has joined ACP member states in protesting the move and Ambassador Heaven was in London this week to attend a series of meetings on the issue.
He made presentations to the Caribbean British Council and the international development agency Oxfam and met with Representatives of the Houses of Parliament as well as held talks with various ministers of government and bureaucrats. He also appeared on radio and television in order to raise the public awareness of the issue.
Ambassador Heaven told JIS News, that while Jamaica and the other ACP countries recognised the need for reform of the sugar regime, the “reform can and should take place in a manner that allows for dialogue and does not attempt to destroy one while building up the other. In any industry, no matter how successful, a (39) per cent cut is bound to have severe repercussion, and in recognition of that, the Europeans have in place a most elaboration compensation pack for their producers.” He pointed out, that the proposed 40 million Euros compensation to ACP countries was inadequate.
“The 40 million Euros proposed as compensation is almost the entire amount of money that Jamaica will lose for the first year and the 40 million Euros is suppose to be for the 18 ACP countries,” he said.
The SIA head, said that from now to November, when the European Council of Ministers meet to act on the proposals, “there is a lot of work that the ACP countries, including Jamaica, will have to do to try to get some modification of the extent of the price cut and also of the time frame of the implementation”.