by Emmanuel Joseph
Grinding of canes has finally resumed in this year’s sugar crop, but Barbados will end up producing much more molasses and less sugar because of the deteriorating state of the over 1,000 tonnes of cane that remained on the compound of the Portvale Sugar Factory during its eight-day work stoppage.
General manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, Leslie Parris revealed this to Barbados TODAY this morning, while giving an update on the crop, which his company and the Barbados Workers Union had agreed to restart this morning.
Parris said the 860 tonnes of canes in the Portvale Yard, and another 500 tonnes still waiting to be weighed, were not of the quality that could be converted to sugar.
While six days of intense negotiations between the Barbados Workers Union and the BAMC concluded early yesterday morning with agreement that operations at Portvale would restart this morning, grinding was only feasible this afternoon, because the factory machinery first had to be made ready.
Parris said the first order of business was to complete the processing of sugar in the process house.
“Secondly we would then seek to grind the cane that are in the yard, and as much as we can, in order to convert that to molasses, because the cane that we have in the yard, cannot be processed at this time as sugar,” Parris pointed out.
“We would try to salvage as much as we can, but at this time, as you would appreciate, at this point in time, we need to go through and examine the cane to determine that [if any should be dumped and the losses].”
The general manager disclosed that several aspects of the crop would not have to be reviewed including the final projected output of sugar and total losses to the industry.
However, he revealed that the BAMC cane farmers alone, would have lost an estimated total of $1.1 million in revenue during the eight day industrial action.
The final official figure, Parris explained though, would be ascertained by the farmers on Tuesday. The original projected production, he noted, was 188,000 tonnes of canes or 18,000 tonnes of sugar. He said, not only would that have to be revisited, but the harvest itself would now end later to try to compensate for the eight days lost.
“We hope to start grinding between 2 and 3 o’clock. We are in the process of “bringing up” the second boiler; we prepare the yard to bring up the canes; by that time, the process house should be clear enough to be able to process whatever cane can be made in time,” said Factory Manager, Raphael O’Neal.
O’Neal also informed this newspaper that Portvale, would begin receiving canes again on Tuesday.
“Given the fact we still have some cane outside before the weighing bridge and basically we only have three shifts to do it, it would seem more likely that it might be Tuesday we might be able to take the cane from the transload station,” O’Neal added.