Despite a setback due to the ashfall from the La Soufriere volcano, Barbados still managed to produce 92 000 tonnes of cane this year.
This was revealed on Friday morning by Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir who said the yield was a slight improvement over last year’s 90 000 tonnes.
“We had a pretty good sugar crop. We had set a target of 110 000 tonnes of cane and we came in somewhere around 92 000 tonnes, which is not bad,” he said.
Weir explained that the heavy ashfall not only led to some of the crops being affected and cane juice having to be discarded, but it also delayed the completion date for reaping the crop by two weeks.
“First of all, we had the ashfall and it is sugar you are talking about, something that people consume, and at the time when the ashfall came, we had somewhere around 11 000 tonnes of the cane on the ground that was completely covered in ash. Then in the factory itself, we had some cane juice which we had to dispose of because cane juice does not last for a long time, so therefore we had to dump some of that and then start over so that delayed us – first the ashfall by one week and then cleaning up the factory and making sure that we had clean material in the factory another week,” he said.
“We were projecting to finish the crop by the first week of June but it ran us into the third week, I believe, but I think that is still good given the fact that we had lost some time with the ashfall and then we had a freak storm as well, and with the freak storm you know you can’t do the harvesting.
That would not have really impacted the actual crop itself because by then we were well on our way but that in itself would have given us some challenges at the factory level in terms of cleaning and post-harvest clean-up, but all in all, I think we did fairly well, I think we can do a lot better.”
Minister Weir said both sugar and molasses were now being sold locally and Government was reaping the financial benefits.
“We have a local supplier that is now selling Barbados sugar and we are also producing molasses for the rum industry and getting a higher price for it, almost double what we were getting previously for sugar and almost double as well for molasses, or close,” he disclosed.
“We have to settle the issues as it relates to distribution in terms of how the rum producers in Barbados get an equitable share based on price because the truth be told, we can’t continue to do things the same old way and expect different results.
The Government has been putting heavy subsidies into sugar and so we have to now look at how we can recoup some of that by getting a fair price for sugar and for molasses.”