Government transitioning sugar industry in Barbados

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Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir says Government is moving to transition the sugar industry from a bulk sugar production industry to a value chain one, with associated benefits for the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Ltd and the public, as a whole.

As he expressed gratitude to China for the donation of a sugarcane harvester to the BAMC, Weir said the sugar industry had for many years been operating at a substantial loss to the government and noted that government subsidies had continued to increase, while authorities tried to grapple with changes necessary to transform the industry.

Reiterating that going forward, the country would no longer be producing only for export; he said the transformation process had already started with sugar being produced for domestic consumption and export for direct consumption in international markets.

The Agriculture Minister stressed that the focus was also on the production of molasses for the island’s rum industry and taking advantage of opportunities available in renewable energy.

“Barbados is now poised to transform the sugar industry into a sugar cane industry with the focus on value chain development going from sugar production; reduced production for domestic consumption, giving Barbadians the opportunity to use its own sugar rather than focus on total imported sugar and at the same time provide the rum industry with the premium side of the industry benefiting from local molasses.

“This transformation also will result in the BAMC earning more for sugar and molasses, whilst we also look at the value chain development, taking us to renewable energy, whereby 2025, we shall see the BAMC becoming a profitable entity with stakeholders involved and ordinary people of Barbados allowed to purchase shares in the BAMC,” Weir said.

This new entity, which will be formed as the sugar industry restructures, is expected to be called the Barbados Energy and Sugar Company (BESCO).

Noting that it was already a work in progress, Weir said: “We shall start to see changes taking place in the industry so that all Barbadians will benefit from our sugar industry and give us a chance to be owners in an industry. That has served us over decades.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the BAMC, Winston Best, thanked the Hunan Province for its commitment given in 2020.

He said the receipt of the gift was “timely and greatly appreciated” since, in recent years, the company had experienced challenges with its harvesters constantly breaking down, resulting in much downtime during the crop season and additional pressures being placed on the company’s resources.

In addition to the harvester, BAMC is expected to receive technical support from Zoomlion Heavy Industry Sciences and Technology Company Ltd., the Chinese firm responsible for manufacturing the harvester. This will come by way of training of staff in operation and maintenance of the harvester.

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