Permanent Secretary Siebert Frederick (left), Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir (centre) and Managing Director of the Foursquare Rum Distillery, Richard Seale, speaking about the wide range of products exported by the facility.

Barbados to boost sugar cane production

Sugar production in Barbados must increase to meet the rum industry’s demands for local molasses.

And Minister of Agriculture, Indar Weir, outlined Government’s intention to address the situation with phased levels of increased sugar cane production over the next three to five years.

Speaking to the media yesterday while at the Foursquare Rum Distillery, he stated that there has already been a rise in the yield this year over that of 2017, with a similar picture to be painted in the next few years.

“And as we go on, exponentially we would increase over the next three to five years our sugar output, our molasses output and indeed our syrup output. This makes for a good future for Barbados because rum is the one product we produce where we are not involved in excess amounts of foreign currency in terms of spend to get the final product to market. What it does give us as an industry is approximately $80 million in foreign currency earnings, and if we were ambitious enough to do all that it takes, we could almost quadruple the amount of foreign currency earned from rum,” he added.

Disclosing that he has already been in talks with the sugar producers, he said various ways would be looked at to increase local molasses production.

During the tour of the facility, Managing Director Richard Seale pointed out that while currently 8 000 tonnes of molasses are produced by the sugar cane industry, 90 per cent of the molasses necessary for rum production has to be imported.

Outlining that the rum industry has a critical role to play in the Barbadian economy due to its high value added component, he underlined that it would not require as much foreign exchange for inputs as other sectors as long as the molasses production on the island went up.

“If we make a Barbados rum from Barbados molasses as the raw material, we will still be using Barbados’ natural gas, and we age it here to add the value here, so by the time we sell that product, nearly 99 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings will be value added. So it could play a very, very important role and the infrastructure is here already, so there is no reason why we can’t significantly increase rum earnings and foreign exchange earnings in the future,” he noted. (JMB)

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