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Executive Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA), Ambassador Derrick Heaven, has said that the sugar industry has many economic possibilities in Jamaica, once it is managed well with the requisite capital.
“The sugar industry has a bright future; we have bottomed out, and are now on the way up. The linkages with this industry are tremendous, and Jamaica has a lot to benefit from a well structured business, which the sugar industry can be,” Ambassador Heaven told the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Mandeville, held at the Golf View Hotel, in Mandeville, last week.
He pointed out that a lucrative market exists in Europe that has not been exploited by players in the industry.
“The sugar cane is one of the most versatile raw material, the things that you can make from it are endless. Those who want to make ginger sugar and other things, there is a demand, there is no quota restriction, and it is duty free,” he told his audience.
Ambassador Heaven emphasised that a sugar factory requires sound management, and a lot of time to guide the process. “The sugar industry requires timely input; you can’t programme it into a six month cash flow, and expect to get good results. When the factory needs to be upgraded, it must be upgraded,” he added.
The Executive Director said the country could not afford to continue pumping resources in the industry, and that privatiSation would provide an opportunity for retooling and set the industry on a path of growth.
“It is the second largest employer of labour, some 38,000 directly employed during cropping season, and about 28,000 during the out of crop season. About eight per cent of the population earn a living from sugar, and its demise will cause influx of persons from rural areas to the urban, with its attendant problems,” he said.