The 2018 sugar crop is finally under way following a pledge by Government to start paying cane farmers this week, most of the $8.9 million in outstanding payments for the 2016-2017 crop.
Chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL) Mark Sealy told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the agreement was reached on Friday at a meeting between the Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of BSIL, the Barbados Agricultural Management Company and the Barbados Cane Industry Corporation.
“They agreed to pay us this week 60 per cent of the outstanding amount owed, which is $5.3 million of approximately $8.9 million,” Sealy, who represents the independent cane farmers, said.
“We felt it was in the interest of sugar workers
. . . farmers and also in the interest of Barbados that in good faith we would proceed with the crop . . . and the crop actually started today . . . . Early in the morning the farmers were cutting cane, canes were being transported to Portvale,” he added.
Sealy said he was uncertain when Government would pay the remainder of the outstanding amount, adding that he was “hoping we would get it shortly, but that is something that is being worked on”.
The spokesman for the cane farmers also stressed that with the crop starting just over a month late, this could have adverse implications for next year’s harvest.
“I think at the beginning of the year, if we had cut the crop in February, I believe the projection was ten per cent higher than last year, and therefore it would be 11,000 tonnes of sugar rather than 10,000 tonnes of sugar at the same sugar levels. Now the challenge would be that we are starting the crop in early April when you should start a crop in early February. So there is definitely going to be some adverse effect on next year’s crop,” he explained, adding that the impact would become clearer in another three weeks.
He said grinding of the canes at the lone sugar factory, Portvale in St James, would likely begin on Wednesday. (EJ)