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Protecting the Sugar Industry

There could be efforts soon to lobby for support to protect the Caricom Market as strategic attempts are being made to protect the sugar industry once again. These lobbying efforts would be taken to the region’s two main markets European Union and the United States.

A review of the sugar industry done in May this year at the 5th meeting of CARCIOM Sugar Stakeholders  has made recommendations along those lines, and these recommendations were presented to Ministers of Agriculture at the Council for Trade and Economic Development meeting in Suriname. A source told Insight that the recommendations were made earlier today when the review was presented to the Ministers meeting in for Caribbean Week of Agriculture.

Caricom’s Officer in Charge of Trade and Economics Desiree Field- Ridley told the media in Suriname earlier this week that the review was going to be presented since the sugar industry is an important one and the issues facing it were urgent. On Friday evening, at a press conference she explained that low production and future of sugar were prominent issues.

“We recognised that our external markets are still important to us and therefore a deliberate approach needs to be made, for example the US, in terms of that market and in terms of seeking to have the shortfall from one country being able to be used by other countries that have individual quotas” She said.

Field-Ridley said too ways to make sugar as a raw and refined product will be examined.

“It is work in progress, it means that the technical people have got to get together to identify what are the possible alternatives for the use of sugar cane.”

A source told Insight that the report which provided country reports on sugar production pointed out that large investors in the Jamaica’s privatised sugar industry were not doing as well as the small investors. In fact, the source explained that Chinese investors closed one of the factories and were looking into building a refinery.

In an earlier interview this week with Insight, Derrick Kellier, Jamaica’s Acting Agriculture Minister said that there were improvements.

“We have brought in a lot of private sector involvement in sugar in Jamaica and clearly with the level of investment capital that they have been putting into the industry we are seeing signs of improvement and we expect that the production levels will increase over the coming years.”

Guyana’s story is not the same, as the industry is stuck in getting a key transformation project running to full capacity, the Skeldon Sugar Factory, though operational, continues to perform disappointingly. Guyana, however, is said to have pointed out in this sugar review that attention continues to be given to mechanisation and co-generation of electricity with its sights set on the production of bio-ethonol. Guyana which has the largest nationally run sugar industry has seen a decline in sugar production in the last three years.

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