The PNP representatives say the situation has reached a critical juncture and they are demanding that before the next crop is finished in June 2019, that a series of consultations are held with the farmers in the affected areas to determine the way forward. An urgent decision must be taken as to whether the Monymusk Sugar factory in Lionel Town, Clarendon will be reopened for the current crop.
The call by both Mr Arscott and Mrs Duncan Sutherland came following a meeting with the cane farmers to discuss the proposal put forward by the current government, to transport cane from Clarendon to factories outside the parish for processing. They said the situation surrounding the future of sugar and cane lands were the main items of discussion along with the attendant disruption of economic livelihoods of families in the parish.
Based on information available to the PNP representatives, it is very unlikely that the government’s proposal will succeed and provide adequate compensation to those affected. Firstly, both the Worthy Park and Appleton Estate factories, together, do not have the capacity to process the amount of cane expected to be reaped and transferred from the current crop in Clarendon.
Secondly, in addition to the cost of double-loading, this situation will have a significantly negative impact on the price paid to the farmers which would impact their earnings.
The farmers shared these concerns with Mr Arscott and Mrs Duncan Sutherland, along with their counterproposal which they have raised with the government. They are recommending that the 300 million already in the budget to supplement the transportation (of the crop), be reallocated to running the Clarendon plant instead.
The farmers are also proposing that the Monymusk factory be reopened at the end of February and remain open for a defined period to mitigate against losses incurred in the last period due to running the factory with less than adequate supplies of cane because of farmers making late deliveries.
The farmers are yet to receive a response from the government and they are becoming increasingly agitated by the lack of dialogue. The People’s National Party says this is unacceptable and is calling for a quick decision as opening the factory would require the annual maintenance to be carried out in preparation to receive the crop.
The PNP representatives are imploring the government to consider, in their decision making, the livelihood of the over 250 factory workers and their families, who would need to be able to plan their lives for the upcoming year. The government must also take into consideration the indebtedness of some farmers who received loans from the government for this crop. “How will they repay these loans if they do not earn adequately from the crop?” the PNP asked.
There has been no clear path for the farmers since this JLP administration came to power and with each passing day, the situation becomes more dire for cane farmers, cane cutters and factory workers.
- Countries: Jamaica