Dr. Dodridge Miller, Chairman of Barbados Farms Limited.
BUSINESS MONDAY - Find new business model!
Sugar cane farmers in Barbados must work together to find a new business model if the industry is to survive.
This recommendation has come from Dr. Dodridge Miller, Chairman of Barbados Farms Limited, the island’s largest farming group.
Miller said it is clear that changes must be made, as the current business model with dependence on Government for support is neither reliable nor sustainable.
The comments by Miller were made against the background of what he said is the extremely critical stage of the industry, with Government unable to meet its commitments to the private farmers in a timely fashion and with a national fiscal position that is under severe stress.
“A number of other options are currently being considered by the private farmers, but much work still needs to be done to determine the best way forward for the industry,” said Miller, who was reviewing the 2017 performance of BFL. BFL is owned by the Sagicor Financial Corporation.
“In the interim, if the sugar cane industry and the private farmers in the industry are to survive, Government must continue to provide the financial support,” he suggested.
According to him, “There is still much uncertainty about the future of the sugar cane industry, with the Government not meeting their financial commitments to the private farmers in a timely fashion.’’
Miller made the point that the BFL, like other private farmers, has still not received all funds due for the sugar cane supplied to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) during the 2017 sugar crop harvest, nor for the Enhanced Cane Replanting incentive scheme (ECRIS).
“As a result of the non payment of these funds by the Government, we had to increase our borrowings from Sagicor Life Incorporated to meet our obligations to suppliers,” said the Chairman.
He recalled that at a meeting last year government had expressed an interest in leasing some of the BFL arable land for use in their sugar cane operations. He pointed out that
several attempts were made after the initial meeting to further develop the arrangement without any success.