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Dec 7, 2017

King Sugar is Back!

The new sugar crop got off to a good start this morning at Tower Hill where relations between millers and farmers seem to be on a good footing. A projected one million three hundred thousand tons of sugar are to be produced during the seven-month crop. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

After a record season this past June, the new 2017-2018 sugar cane crop season was officially opened today. While there are a number of factors that can affect the productivity of the industry, Communications Director William Neal says that all associations have come on board for the commercial agreement, which will help to ensure the viability of the industry for the factory and farmers.

 

William Neal

William Neal, Communications Director, ASR/B.S.I.

“What we try to do is to make sure that we are ready to respond very quickly and that we continue to work to increase efficiency and better our production on an annual basis. Last year was a record year in terms of sugar production and we are hoping that this year we will be able to better our production level than last year.  Sugar production on an annual basis is depending on one, the weather; it’s dependent on what happens in the fields in terms of best practices; how good the farmers are in terms of maintaining best practices. What we do at the factory is that we do our part in terms of making sure that we are working on efficiencies, etc. But it is really a collaboration between the mill and the factory. If it is not done at the field level, then you can’t expect to get a good production at the factory level.”

 

The Sugar Industry Control Board is composed of the Sugar Cane Production Committee and the Sugar Industry Research and Development Industry. Chairman Gabriel Martinez says SICB has made concerted efforts and planning to appropriately assist our cane farmers in these areas.

 

Gabriel Martinez

Gabriel Martinez, Chairman, Sugar Industry Control Board

“For this crop, the SICB and its departments will be more aggressive in terms of assisting farmers with their harvest plans, variety selection and all the agriculture husbandry that it requires because the aim is productivity—to produce more in less space—so that we can have available space for potential diversification of other crops.”

 

There have been many upgrades to the mills and the facilities and Production Superintendent Nolberto Leiva says that they are more than prepared for deliveries to the factory. Most recently seam trials as well as repairs and equipment testing were successfully completed in anticipation of the new crop season. A total of seven thousand metric tons daily can be milled.

 

Nolberto Leiva

Nolberto Leiva, Production Superintendent, A.S.R./B.S.I.

“We embarked on a comprehensive maintenance out of crop repairs in both BELCOGEN and the factory plant, knowing the challenges that we were going to have with the phase one expansion for the DCS project that we have and also some improvements that were going to be done in areas of the milling plant and the power plant. Immediately after the season was completed we also continued with the water boiling program whereby we continue to generate electricity to sell to the national grid.”

 

Olivia Avilez

Olivia Avilez, Cane Farmers Relations Manager, ASR/B.S.I.

“The areas in which farmers need most assistance and that is specifically to reduce cost of production—that is the key area—increase yield of fields where it can and maximize really what they can get out of products that they are producing.”

 

According to Martinez, the Government is likely to provide fuel subsidies to the cane farmers to cut costs in transportation and address the rehabilitation of sugar roads by the Ministry of Works. Duane Moody for News Five.

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