The 2018 Barbados sugar harvest began Monday after agreement had been reached with the government on the multi-million dollar arrears owned to cane farmers.
Chairman of the Barbados Sugar industries Limited (BSIL), Mark Sealy, said 40 per cent or BDS$5.3 million of the BDS$8.9 million owed to the farmers would be paid by the end of this week.
Sealy said that the farmers had been promised that the remainder would be paid soon and as a result, farmers have started carrying cane to the Port Vale sugar factory.
Last week, Finance Minister Chris Sinckler said that the farmers would have been paid the outstanding funds owed to them and that funds would also be sought for this year’s crop.
Barbados produced just under 12,000 tonnes of sugar last year.
Caribbean countries produced an estimated 418,000 tonnes of sugar for the 2016-17 period, according to a statement released by the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) last November, adding that the figure surpassed the projected figure of 406,000.
The SAC, which groups the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), the Belize Sugar Industries Limited,(BSIL) Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GUYSUCO), and Sugar Manufacturing Corporation of Jamaica Limited (SMCJL) said the production figures demonstrate the region’s own capacity to supply the regional market, estimated at 320,000 tonnes for both brown and white sugar, and supports the argument for tariffs to be applied to imported sweeteners.