A Government Minister has warned that, based on the current EU sugar quota of 32.97 tonnes, Barbados stands to lose over US$50 million in direct foreign exchange earnings over the next eight years, if nothing is done to restructure the local sugar industry.
In light of this, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Senator Tyrone Barker, today told a high-level workshop for the Cane Industry Research Project, that “the issue of an annotated land use policy could no longer be ignored”.
Senator Barker told the stakeholders gathered that optimal results from the proposed model hinged on Government’s ability to ensure that at least 31,000 acres of land is accessible for the cultivation of sugar cane to guarantee raw material availability for a 25 to 30-year period.
Charging that the more land used for sugar cane cultivation the better the expected returns could be, the Minister stressed the need for a legislative mandate to be given for the “identification of a minimum number of land acres solely designated for agricultural…. activities”.
In an effort to increase the production acreage, Senator Barker said the Ministry would be revamping the Cane Replanting Scheme as well as implementing new policies to return agricultural lands to agricultural production.
Success, he underlined, “is dependent on increasing sugar cane production from 20 to 30 tonnes per acre in the short term and obtaining a power purchase agreement with the Barbados Light and Power.”
The sugar industry reportedly contributed an average of US$25.14 million per year in revenue over the past four decades from 1961 – 2004.