Jamaica. Gov't optimistic about growth of sugar industry

01.02.2018

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry (left); Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society; and Custos of St Andrew Patricia Dunwell sample fish at the 14th Annual Eat Jamaican Day Expo, held at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Headquarters in Kingston recently.

THE country has not seen the economic benefits of the privatisation of the sugar industry that was anticipated when renewed efforts to divest started in 2005, but despite production being lower than when the State had majority holdings, the Government is optimistic that the sector can survive on domestic demand and exports to the Caribbean region.

Speaking at a meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), of Parliament yesterday, permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry Donovan Stanberry noted that with the local market now more lucrative than the export market, there were various ways to sustain the industry.

“We now have to tailor the sugar industry to satisfy the markets that really make money… certainly for the last four or five years, all the (brown) sugar we consume in Jamaica are in fact from local production. There was a time when the EU (European) market was so lucrative that we would send all our local production to meet our quota and then we would buy cheap world market sugar for local consumption, that is no longer the case,” he stated.

He also pointed out that the new standards mandated for the labelling and packaging of sugar in 2016 has added a new layer of economic activity and cleared the way for regional marketing. “That has also facilitated the export of our sugar in packages to Caricom (the Caribbean Community), and the price in Caricom is much more lucrative than if we had sent it to Europe,” Stanberry said.

The permanent secretary noted ongoing consultations between the sugar industry and stakeholders in the manufacturing sector for the use of “plantation white sugar” in the production of beverages, confectioneries and other similar products. Plantation sugar is a mix between refined and brown sugar produced without re-melting or refining of the raw sugar.

“They are consulting with the JMA (Jamaica Manufacturers' Association) to see the extent to which our local manufacturers would use plantation white rather than importing white sugar and if we can find a price point that would satisfy the manufacturers and the sugar industry then that would really augur well for the sugar industry,” he said.

Currently some 60 to 70,000 tonnes of refined sugar is imported duty-free annually for use in food production, similar to the amount of brown sugar which is consumed locally, according to Stanberry.

Last year, Jamaica produced 89,000 tonnes of sugar. According to a 2016 ministry paper, Jamaica exported 78, 476 tonnes of sugar in 2015 valued at US$56.2 million, and 88, 509 tonnes in 2014, valued at US$65.3 million.


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