JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that the government’s objective of developing a commercially viable and sustainable sugar cane sector was on target.

Addressing a two-day regional seminar put on by the European Union’s Accompanying Measures for former Sugar Protocal Countries (AMSP) organization, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Montego Bay, Thursday (January 20), Dr. Tufton noted that the divestment of the seven Government-owned factories is a critical to that initiative.

He said that the Government expects to complete the divestment of all five of the public sector sugar estates by August 2011. This will mark the complete departure of Government from ownership and operation of 70 per cent of the installed sugar production capacity in Jamaica. 

“All of Jamaica’s seven sugar estates will then be in the hands of the private sector. This is a significant milestone for GOJ’s sugar sector reform efforts and marks the transition phase of the Government’s Sugar Adaptation Strategy,” Dr. Tufton pointed out.

He observed that, as part of the mix, Government was working towards the establishment of a number of revenue streams from the cultivation of cane, including the production of straw, bulk and refined sugar, molasses for the rum industry and ethanol for the energy sector, to make the industry more competitive.

“By 2015, we are going to be called upon to a large extent, to compete based on price, based on competitiveness, based on our ability to be creative and that creativity must require us to diversify into multiple products, to understand the demands of the marketplace, wherever those markets are, and to offer customized offerings, based on our capacity, as relatively small scale producers,” he said.

Dr. Tufton challenged Caribbean sugar producers to ‘move away from the commodity mentality’, as this was not a commodity industry anymore.    

“We, as growers of cane and consumers of sugar, must collaborate to ensure that we find a way to ensure that there is sustainability, beyond the predictability that we enjoyed under previous agreements,” the Minister said.