According to the Minister, sugar will contribute some US$80 million (J$10 billion) in earnings this year, a far cry from the struggling sector it was only a year ago.
“We have saved an industry for the betterment of the country. God has blessed us and we are coming out on the right side. It also employs 50,000 hard-working Jamaicans,” Mr. Samuda informed.
The Minister was speaking at the recent press launch of the Jamaica International Exhibition (JIE) trade show at the Montego Bay Convention Centre at Rose Hall in St. James.
Mr. Samuda said that despite all the obstacles his Ministry faced in the early days of assuming portfolio responsibility, the sugar industry and its workers have proven to be very resilient and the sector is now on the verge of a comeback of monumental proportions.
“When we got here, which is not even a year yet, the first problem we encountered was the closure of the Monymusk Sugar Factory,” the Minister noted.
“We were able to keep it open, albeit with creative financing and deals made here and there. This year, however, we are going to have perhaps one of the best crops we have had in years. And, it is going to be run at the field level…at the farm level by Jamaican farmers,” he said.
Mr. Samuda pointed out that Jamaica has been fortunate on two scores, in that there has been a lot of rainfall which has put the sugar sector back in good stead; and that the price of sugar has moved from US$370 per ton to almost US$600, “which will translate this year into a gain of US$9 million just for price.”
Meanwhile, the Minister said that Jamaican consumers can now be assured that the sugar they buy at the supermarket will be of certain integrity and standard.
“We have taken steps that have now been gazetted into law. The manufacturers of sugar will now have a better chance to market the sugar on the local market without having the unfair competition from sugar brought in from all parts of the world. We don’t even know where or the conditions under which it had been manufactured,” he said.
Mr. Samuda said the Government is working with the private sector to iron out all the logistics where everything will be in place by July.
“I don’t share the view of some pessimists that the sugar industry cannot serve Jamaica well. All the evidence is showing that it can,” the Minister said.
- Countries: Jamaica