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Story Highlights

  • The sugar industry recorded an estimated US$109.7 million in combined earnings and savings during the 2012/13 sugar crop year.
  • “We have the potential to produce over 200,000 tonnes of sugar (per annum). We could have done close to 160,000 tonnes of sugar (in the 2012/13 crop year) if all producers, both estates and cane farmers, performed excellently in the last crop."
  • Renovation of the Toll Gate community centre and sports complex was undertaken at a cost of approximately $22 million with grant funding provided by the European Union (EU) Accompanying Measures for Sugar protocol (AMSP).

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, is underscoring the importance of the sugar industry to Jamaica’s economy, particularly in the context of the administration’s efforts to restructure the country’s economy.

Speaking at the official opening of the Toll Gate sports complex in Clarendon on Thursday (January 9), Mr. Clarke noted that the sector recorded an estimated US$109.7 million in combined earnings and savings during the 2012/13 sugar crop year.

He further informed that the sector continues to be the largest employer in the agricultural industry, accounting for approximately 18 per cent of current jobs.

“As such, sugar is still the largest wage earner and exchange earner in the agricultural sector. The (sector’s) performance can (however) be improved if we step up production,” he asserted.

The Minister also reminded those present of the industry’s sterling contribution to “the education, health and sporting capacity of our country.”

Mr. Clarke said, notwithstanding the sector’s positive contributions in many areas, there are several challenges which must be faced; and cited under-performance by a number of stakeholders among the reasons  that “we are still (producing) below our capabilities.”

“We have the potential to produce over 200,000 tonnes of sugar (per annum). We could have done close to 160,000 tonnes of sugar (in the 2012/13 crop year) if all producers, both estates and cane farmers, performed excellently in the last crop. This would have translated into foreign exchange earnings and savings close to US$130 million. We fully expected cane production for the last crop would have been close to 1.6 million tones, instead, we ended up with 1.4 million,” he explained.

Mr. Clarke contended that in many instances the farmers are “rising to the occasion,” and some of the estates are doing much better. He lamented however, that others are not performing “as we would have hoped.”

“There is new management in place (at some of the estates) and they have indicated that they are going to be stepping up to the plate because we need them to perform, if we are going to a have viable sugar industry,’ the Minister added.

He informed that overall, cane planting expanded from 2,814 hectares in 2010, to 5,438 hectares during the 2012/13 crop and congratulated the farmers for the great work they are doing.

Renovation of the Toll Gate community centre and sports complex was undertaken at a cost of approximately $22 million with grant funding provided by the European Union (EU) Accompanying Measures for Sugar protocol (AMSP).

The project, which was also implemented by the Ministry’s Sugar Transformation Unit (STU) and executed by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), entailed construction and improvement of a multi-purpose court, playfield, and community centre, installation of perimeter fencing, and acquisition of equipment for property maintenance.

The Water Well sports complex at Race Course,  also in Clarendon, is also slated for renovation, at a cost of approximately $17.9 million. It will also be financed under the EU AMSP.