Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir is projecting that Barbados could quadruple the amount of foreign exchange it earns from rum in the next five years,
Weir said during a tour of Foursquare Rum Distillery in St Philip this afternoon, that Government had a plan to increase sugar production here, with an eye on strengthening the $80 million rum industry.
This, he said, included increasing the acreage of cane being planted, while noting that this year, sugar production had already recorded a rise over the last year.
“We took a decision to work with the sugar producers of Barbados to start increasing the production of sugar cane across Barbados on a phased basis, where we have recognized that the yield this year has increased over last year and that as we go on exponentially we will increase over the next three to five years, our sugar output, molasses output and indeed syrup output,” Weir said.
With Foursquare’s Executive Chairman Richard Seale revealing that about 90 per cent of the molasses used in the rum sector was imported, the Minister anticipated that molasses production would also save the country much needed foreign exchange.
“We look to the rum industry with not only a high degree of hope, but a perfect example of what can happen in a country as small as Barbados . . . . I have been told repeatedly across Barbados and indeed sometimes in the press that there is no place for sugar and that there is no place for a sugar industry. Well I am happy to tell you all that Mr Richard Seale has dispelled that myth today, because he himself told me that there is an absolute need to continue with a sugar cane industry, which is what we have been saying all along,” Weir declared.
Seale, whose company’s 2005 blended rum won the best rum in the world this year at the Supreme Champion Spirits Competition in London, had earlier appealed to Weir to keep the sugar cane industry alive.
“We don’t want to go to zero. The more local [molasses] we get, the better it is for the country,” Seale said, adding that Foursquare Rum Distillery produces close to 300,000 cases of rum per year, 70 per cent of which is exported.
To demonstrate his seriousness about addressing the shortage of local molasses, Weir met privately with Seale immediately after the tour to discuss that matter.
However, he declined to give details on the outcome of the meeting when Barbados TODAY contacted him hours later.