The Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) is in negotiations with CLICO judicial manager Patrick Toppin of Deloitte Consulting to persuade him to free up 2,000 acres of plantation lands owned by the company that are now needed for Government’s multi-purpose sugar factory to meet its targets.
The Todds and Wakefield plantations in St John are among CLICO’s assets under judicial management, and have been taken out of production.
But BAMC general manager Leslie Parris told Barbados TODAY that maximum cane production would be required to efficiently fuel the planned multi purpose factory in Andrews, St Joseph which will convert the declining sugar sector into a sugarcane and renewable energy industry.
Not having those two major plantations available would have a significant impact on the plans, Parris cautioned.
“We are still engaged in discussions with the judicial manager in that regard . . . We will know in a relatively short period of time exactly what position would be taken on that,” the BAMC boss said.
The facility is part of a US$250 million Cane Industry Restructuring Project (CIRP) with the first phase focusing on the production of high-end direct consumption sugar, sugar for export, bulk sugar for domestic consumption, high-end sugar for the rum industry, and 25 megawatts of electricity for the national grid. Construction is expected to begin no later than September this year in order for the factory to be completed in time for the 2017 sugar crop.
Asked what would be the fate of the facility if the judicial manager rejected the request to return the two plantations to production, Parris said Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick would have to make a decision on that matter.
He noted, however, that finding alternative lands to grow cane could be a challenge, since only certain areas were approved for agricultural purposes.
The BAMC general manager said the impact the loss of such a substantial swath of prime cane lands would have on next year’s harvest also had to be assessed.
“We need to reassess that and determine how that would impact the cane production going forward, but it would be a significant impact,” Parris said.
The planned multi-purpose facility, which will be constructed in two phases, will result in the processing of over 330,000 tonnes of sugarcane to produce 15,000 tonnes of raw sugar, 12,000 tonnes of refined sugar and 24,000 tonnes of molasses.
In addition to the bagasse by-product from the processing of sugar cane, a further 150,000 tonnes of river tamarind biomass will be used to generate over 170,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
More than 300 workers are expected to get employment at the factory.
The Inter-Sugar Partnership in February announced it had signed an agreement with the Barbados Government to borrow US$250 million from the US-based National Standards Finance to fund the CIRP.