Is the sugar industry still viable? | Letters

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The agricultural sector provides jobs, food and hard currency to our country, but you can’t help but think about what happened to the interest and the sector as a whole. An article published in the gleaner by Elizabeth Morgan, entitled “Where have our traditional agricultural exports gone? (August 11), gave a brief summary of the factors that have affected Jamaica and our CARICOM partners.

The sugar industry was once our bread and butter and although still functional it is now run by the private sector. The government has developed a “country strategy” that would guide its diversification over a 10-year period, 2006-2015 (JCS I). This was later revised for the years 2006-2020 (JCS II). The country strategy was a public-private sector-led initiative that would improve production efficiency, diversify revenue sources and strengthen human resources, which in turn would help advance the government’s macroeconomic objectives.

The implementation was to be done in phases: Phase 1 (transition) 2006-2010; Phase 2 (transformation), 2010-2015; and Phase 3 (consolidation) 2015-2020. However, to date we have not seen any improvement, but rather a decline in the industry throughout these years; while the government continues to import sugar and sweets for the domestic market. According to the United Nations COMTRADE International Trade Database, it was worth US$54.31 million in 2019.

Obviously, such an importation is a confirmation of the decline of locally grown sugar. We must, as a nation, seriously reassess the role of sugar sustainability for economic growth.

GRIFFITHS LAVOI

Hartham district, Manchester

[email protected]

Rachel J. Bradford