Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, speaking during a ceremony for the donation of a sugarcane harvester to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Ltd. today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Government is moving to transition the sugar industry from a bulk sugar production industry to a value chain one, with associated benefits for the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) Ltd and the public, as a whole.

This was emphasised today by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, as he expressed gratitude to China, and the Hunan Province, in particular, for the donation of a sugarcane harvester. The harvester was received by the Minister, on behalf of the BAMC, at its headquarters in Warrens, St. Michael.

Minister Weir reminded those gathered that the sugar industry in Barbados had for many years been operating at a substantial loss to government and noted that government subsidies had continued to increase, while they tried to grapple with changes necessary to transform the industry.

Reiterating that going forward the country would no longer be producing only for export, he said the process of transformation had already started with sugar being produced for domestic consumption and for export for direct consumption in international markets.

He stressed the focus was also on the production of molasses for the island’s rum industry as well as taking advantage of opportunities available in renewable energy.  

“Barbados is now poised to transform the sugar industry into a sugar cane industry with the focus on value chain development going from sugar production; reduced production for domestic consumption, giving Barbadians the opportunity to use its own sugar rather than focus on total imported sugar and at the same time provide the rum industry with the premium side of the industry benefiting from local molasses.

“This transformation also will result in the BAMC earning more for sugar and molasses, whilst we also look at the value chain development, taking us to renewable energy, where by 2025, we shall see the BAMC becoming a profitable entity with stakeholders involved and ordinary people of Barbados given the opportunity to purchase shares in the BAMC,” the Agriculture Minister said. 

This new entity, which will be formed as the sugar industry restructures, is expected to be called the Barbados Energy and Sugar Company (BESCO). Noting that it was already a work in progress, Mr. Weir said: “We shall start to see changes taking place in the industry, so that all Barbadians will benefit from our sugar industry and give us a chance to be owners in an industry that has served us over decades.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of the BAMC, Winston Best, thanked the Hunan Province for its commitment given in 2020. 

He said the receipt of the gift was “timely and greatly appreciated”, since in recent years the company had experienced challenges with its harvesters constantly breaking down, resulting in much downtime during the crop season and additional pressures being placed on the company’s resources.

In addition to the harvester, BAMC is expected to receive technical support from Zoomlion Heavy Industry Sciences and Technology Company Ltd., the Chinese firm responsible for manufacturing the harvester. This will come by way of training of staff in the operation and maintenance of the harvester.

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