Addressing the 77th Jamaica Association of Sugar Technologists (JAST) in Ocho Rios, the Minister argued that not only is cogeneration key to reducing industry production costs, but is a potential income earner capable of generating revenue from the sale of energy to the national power grid.
“I am aware of the matters surrounding the pricing of renewable energy by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), and will give my full support to the resolution of any issue to enable the sugar cane industry to urgently benefit from this new (potential) source of revenue. The sugar industry, itself, must urgently agree on a formula that will allow cane farmers to share in the revenues from cogeneration of electricity as directed by both the Mills and Wint Sugar Industry Enquiry Commissions. We are committed to an urgent resolution of the issues”, Mr. Kellier advised.
The Agriculture Minister urged sugar cane industry stakeholders to increase production in order to cushion the local sector from the impact of a possible further decline in global sugar market prices.
Mr. Kellier noted that the European Sugar Regime was poised for significant change by 2017, and “although guaranteed access of our sugar exports to the European Union (EU) market will remain intact, there is no guarantee of what the price will be.”
“The stark reality of this situation is that we face the impending possibility of a major price decline come next crop year. We must face this stoutly, recognizing that the best solution to this is greater productivity and increased production,” he stated.
Mr. Kellier argued that similar to the manner in which challenges affecting the industry 10 years ago were effectively dealt with, stakeholders must to do the same in 2014 by further raising production and productivity in order to deal with anticipated challenges.
He urged stakeholders to “work together to establish a sugar refinery because the arrangements within CARICOM provide a more secured market; and if we are not careful, other countries could exploit this long-standing opportunity and leave us behind.
The two-day conference, which was also attended by State Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Luther Buchanan; and Permanent secretary, Donovan Stanberry, was held on November 6 and 7 under the theme: ‘Positioning for increased cane and sugar production’.