|Senator Darcy Boyce??|
Government plans to embark on a $200 million project to diversify the sugar industry with bagasse, ethanol, special sugars and molasses.
This was revealed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, who was speaking at the St. George Parish Independence Committee’s Panel Discussion entitled "High volatile price of oil, high electricity bills, linking Bagasse Energy with sugar production … Are there opportunities in diversifying the Sugar Industry." ??It was held yesterday at the Valley Resource Centre, the Valley St. George.
Senator Boyce stated that when the project was first conceptualised it was expected that it would have cost some $400 million, pointing out:?? "We got the project down to a size which allows it to be viable with the existing acreage of land for sugar production and which costs half as much money at $200 million.?? I feel that the time spent??has been well worth it to reduce that bill from $400 million to $200 million," he underscored.
He added that Government was also looking at producing bagasse outside of the sugar industry.
"We recognise also that bagasse?? from sugar cane will not by itself be able to give us the kind of return that we want…We have actually commissioned workers to look at the economics of growing other biomass, river tamarind and other things we know grow in Barbados, but we actually have to get some hard data.???? What is the tonnage per acre, how much of it actually produces electricity?…so we can actually do numbers so we know how much energy can be produced…That work has been commissioned and is going on," he said.
Senator Boyce noted that people involved in the sugar cane industry needed to raise their level of productivity by making better use of technology to raise the number of tonnes of cane per acre.??
He indicated that it did not make any sense to continue "pouring" money heavily into an industry without improving its technology.??
"If we do not improve the technology, we will build up for a while and then we will have to come back in 10 years’ time and have to do it all over again.
"… So we have actually begun discussions with some of the major private landowners to look at ways how private landowners and Government could come together to figure out a way of managing these lands to ensure that we put more technology into use, raise the productivity of those lands and we can reduce the cost of tonnes per acre," he added.