Whither fu­ture of sugar cane?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir: LIFE WILL not be the same with­out the sugar cane. In­deed, it is not!

In 1972, Ja­maica pro­duced 500,000 tonnes of sugar. In 2016, we pro­duced 83,000 tons. The courts closed the Ap­ple­ton Fac­tory be­cause of a fish kill. That cost us 25,000 tonnes of sugar and bankrupted many cane farm­ers. Was there no other way? Where was the National En­vi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Agency? No sugar, no mo­lasses, no rum, for­eign ex­change lost.

As the Ja­maican dol­lar gal­lops to­wards J$200 to US$1, peo­ple have dol­larised their sav­ings and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in acts of self-preser­va­tion. The Gov­ern­ment is lag­ging be­hind.

How can Ja­maica res­cue the sugar in­dus­try? The cost of trans­port­ing sugar cane to dis­tant fac­to­ries is the great­est in­hibitor. We could make all toll roads free for trucks car­ry­ing sugar cane. The Gov­ern­ment could con­sider pay­ing for statu­tory de­duc­tions for the sugar in­dus­try – NIS, NHT, HEART, and education tax. Many coun­tries around the world pay to es­tab­lish new in­dus­tries and to re­sus­ci­tate old ones. It would be the haves pay­ing for the have-nots.


Ja­maica should com­mence re­fin­ing white sugar and there­after ban white sugar im­ports. If we can con­sider smelt­ing alu­minium, surely, we can make white sugar. Do re­mem­ber that sugar does not suffer from prae­dial lar­ceny and stormy weather as other crops do.

Re­mem­ber, too, we do not ed­u­cate our chil­dren to be­come sugar cane cut­ters. Let us, there­fore, prop­erly re­ward those who choose to toil in the fields for our ben­e­fit. Life would be bet­ter with the sugar cane. KEITH HOBBINS khob­bins@cw­ja­maica.com

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