Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, Indar Weir, answers questions from the press after touring of the Portvale Sugar Factory in St. James. (F.Belgrave/BGIS)

Barbados’ 2022 sugar cane harvest will begin on Monday, March 14.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, Indar Weir, made the announcement on Saturday during a press conference at Portvale Sugar Factory, St. James.

Mr. Weir thanked the team at the factory for putting in the necessary work to ready the facility and disclosed that this year’s harvest was expected to yield 100,000 tonnes of sugar cane, with 6,800 tonnes of sugar and 6,900 tonnes of molasses expected to be produced. “This should give us a yield of 7,871 tonnes or 8.5 per cent over the previous year,” he pointed out.

The Agriculture Minister also revealed that all of the sugar produced at the factory would now be consumed through domestic consumption or direct consumption, by way of exports of packaged sugar.

“Previously, when we were doing bulk sugar, we were exporting sugar at a significant loss to what it costs us to produce it. We are trying to shrink that gap and in order for us to do so, we had to come out of the bulk sugar market altogether because it was not worth the effort. With direct consumption sugar, in addition to molasses, we are getting better prices,” he stated.

He also addressed the issue of the payment of the farmers. “The private farmers weren’t being paid on time. This resulted in a number of problems in the sugar industry, problems with poor husbandry; cow itch; problems with the crop not being able to start on time; canes not getting proper fertilizer, a whole set of problems. We have solved those problems now because we’ve been able to pay the farmers on time and this basically is a consequence of us being able to see better yields going forward.”

Mr. Weir also revealed that his Ministry has introduced a climate mitigation subsidy to assist private sugar cane farmers in improving their husbandry.

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