Two days before Christmas, Government and the Japanese Bank for International Corporation will sign a US$200 million engineering procurement contract to start construction on a multi-purpose sugar factory between January and March next year.
“We intend to have that signed, and also in relation to the two supporting banks, these being HSBC and the Mitsubishi Bank of Japan, [as well as] Omega Insurance and the World Bank,” Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“I am confident that in regards to that new facility, it can be strongly supported and . . . I am sure that moving the industry towards the path of value added is the correct decision to take,” declared the minister.
He said the decision to move the sugar industry away from just a sweetener to value added products along the value chain, was the right move for Barbados at this time, while noting that to do nothing would lead to a loss of 2,500 jobs by 2014.
Estwick also suggested that it was unfortunate that some people were saying the country should consider other product-mixes.
“Barbados is not going to be a guinea pig or test case for any unproven technology, and I say no more on that,” stated the government minister.
“I am sure the move to produce electricity is the right move, and I will also say that some who are now critical to remember that it was the Barbados Labour Party, who in regards to the European Union Adaptation Strategy, that started speciality sugars in Barbados.”
“All we are doing is refining the sugar to higher quality here in Barbados so that we [don’t have] to import white sugar and stop importing all the brown sugars that we now import, saving us close to $35 million in foreign exchange and producing 25 megawatts of electricity, to power 55,000 homes again, with a capacity to earn over $50 million,” declared Estwick.
He noted that the new factory would support the rum industry, which is responsible for bringing in $70 million in earnings per year.
“So we decided that the best thing to do, was to supplement the biomas side via river tamarind, but support the rum industry domestically by cane variety that gives us the quality of liquor that we can produce Grade “B” and Grade “A” molasses, which has high sugar quantities and as a result the rum industry can produce significantly more alcohol from the same quantum of molasses,” Estwick said. (EJ)