Gov't seeking more cane lands
Convinced that widenening sugar cane cultivation can drive the production of sugar and value-added businesses, the Government has embarked on a massive drive to get idle lands suitable for sugar cane cultivation into production.
"The vision of the government is to expand and grow the sugar cane industry in Jamaica," Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said last Friday, at the launch of the 2010/2011 sugar crop at the Frome Estate in Westmoreland.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (3rd left) and officials of the Frome Sugar factory during a tour of the facility last Friday. (Photo: Kenroy Pringle)
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (3rd left) and officials of the Frome Sugar factory during a tour of the facility last Friday. (Photo: Kenroy Pringle) 1/1
"I am convinced that the sugar cane industry is not dead, and so we want to see an industry that adds as much value to the primary value of the sugar cane," added Dr Tufton.
The plan, he said, to expand the cultivation of the crop is aimed at facilitating multiple revenue streams.
"It is not just about producing for raw sugar ... it is about producing refined sugar to satisfy a large market, it's about producing more molasses to make rum; producing energy..... so to do all of this we have to expand," he explained.
He later told the Observer that already he has had preliminary discussions with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) about the possibility of making 2,000 acre of land it owns in the Montpelier area of St James, available for sugar cane production.
"We have some lands in the Montpelier area, as well, which is idle and once appropriate agronomic standards are met for cane production, I am prepared to hand that over for long term lease for sugar cane production," he added.
In the parishes of Westmoreland and Clarendon, Dr Tufton said, his ministry is already in discussions with private land owners to secure lands that are not being used.
The government as part of its sugar divestment programme, last year sold the Chinese company, Complant the assets of the Frome, Bernard Lodge and Monymusk estates.
But Complant has indicated that there will have to be an increase in the number of acreage of sugar cane under cultivation to profitably feed the factories.
Dr Tufton said however, that over the past year more than 1,800 hectares of cane has been planted at the three estates.
And late last year, Everglades Farms Limited which purchased the Long Pond and Hampden estates in Trelawny from government reported that it has undertaken a massive cane re-planting programme