JIS News

A case study on the sugar cane industry conducted by the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), has recommended that the government provide financial and tax incentives for persons, who wished to invest in the sugarcane sector, including foreign investors.
It also proposed offering tax exemptions on relevant equipment and offering assistance with soft loans through the Development Bank of Jamaica, for plant upgrading.
The research, the contents of which were revealed by Consultant, Noel Osbourne, today (Nov. 7) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, called for the promotion of sugar cane as a viable crop for the production of ethanol and electricity for sale to the national grid, and for the government to develop a clearly defined policy on renewable energy, which would enable the sugarcane industry, the Jamaica Public Service Company or any private power plant, to negotiate power purchase agreements.
The report further recommended was the formulation of policies that encourage improvements in energy use in sugar factory operations, which would in turn, allow for the generation of surplus bagasse for generating electricity.
“The substitution of bagasse energy for oil energy will result in economic benefits to Jamaica, financial benefits to the sugarcane industry and positive environmental benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the report said.
According to the report, sugar is important to the Jamaican economy not only for its traditional uses, but also for its value as a significant employer of labour in rural areas.
As such, the study suggested that incentives should be offered by the state to sugarcane farmers for the cultivation of feed stock such as fuel wood, to supplement the energy source in the sugar factories. The move, the report said, would reduce the costs for purchasing fuel oil to supplement bagasse in the factories, and introduce a new livelihood for farmers on marginal lands.
According to the report, the modernization of the sugarcane industry was long overdue and as such, the government should pursue bilateral agreements for technical assistance from other countries with modernized sugar factories and industries, for the upgrading of plants and operations.
The report further pointed out that the only way that sugar production was going to be viable for Jamaica, was if the industry was restructured to produce the “optimum quantities of raw and refine sugar for the domestic market, ethanol for the replacement of MTBE in gasoline and cogeneration of electricity from bagasse”.
It was also noted that there was dire need to strengthen linkages among national, regional and international organizations, and the sugarcane industry should be strengthened to increase the possibility of such collaboration.
The report, ‘A case study on the sugar cane industry with emphasis on energy supply’, was funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.