Higher yields are projected this year from the island’s sugar harvest, which is set to start on March 1.
This was revealed on Saturday by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, during a press conference at Wakefield Plantation in St. John, where he noted that the yield for 2020 stood at 90,000 tonnes of cane and this year’s projection was estimated at 107,000 tonnes.
Pointing out that Barbados had produced 7,200 tonnes of sugar last year, but would be “deliberately reducing” that to 5,200 tonnes, the Minister said this was to satisfy domestic consumption and for export to the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).
“We are now exporting sugar to Winn-Dixie and we will start with Walmart as well, so that we have targeted the amount of sugar that we will need,” he added.
The Agriculture Minister said molasses is projected to increase from 5,000 tonnes this year. “We are increasing that now to 13,000 because we do recognise that when we produce more molasses we are able to help the rum industry, so that our distilleries then can produce more rum for export and we benefit from the earning of foreign exchange in that regard.”
While he emphasised that the Ministry would be carefully monitoring the progress, Mr. Weir voiced his optimism on the industry, saying: “I personally think that [with] the good rainfall that we have had that we will even be able to surpass the target, and we probably may get to 110,000 tonnes for production. So, therefore, these are good times. I am pleased to note what is happening in the industry and I may also report to you that because of the favourable rainfall our yields are expected to be 17.84 per acre in 2021 versus 12.14 in 2020. So, all around, things are trending in the right direction.”
The Agriculture Minister also spoke about the development of a National Food Security Plan, noting that his Ministry was cognisant of the fact that while the country was at the stage of managing COVID-19, it had to focus on national food security.
He said such a plan would cover “all we would need for domestic consumption and then all of what we would need to satisfy our tourism industry when it comes back up”.
Adding that in so doing, critical decisions had been taken in relation to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company and the sugar industry, he said: “Certainly, we are now producing sugar for domestic consumption and indeed for export – and export for consumption, rather than in bulk. We have taken the decision, last year, to finish off bulk production for export and so now all our sugar would be used in our local market and then for the US and UK.”