Barbados Sugar Cane Industry: The dinosaur that fails to go extinct

UPDATED: June 28, 2013  

With all the current talk about injecting $450 million into the ruins of our sugar industry and splurging on a “retro-fit” (whatever that REALLY means) for the St. Joseph sugar factory, we’re going to revisit this earlier article for a day.

Also worthwhile is a piece by our old friend Colin Beadon, who says forget about sugar – Barbados should grow food.

Time to kill the beast that will not die

by “Mr. Thompson”

“Politicians would have you believe that the sugar cane industry is a major employer and having it collapse would have significant social and economic impacts on the country. I would suggest the opposite, subsidizing its survival will result in social and economic hardships for the country.”

Recently both national newspapers have published political articles about the Barbados sugar industry and what has to be done for its survival.

Questions…

  • Why should the Barbados sugar industry survive ?
  • Why are taxpayers paying tax dollars to subsidize every pound of sugar produced ?
  • Why did St Lucia, Dominican, Jamaica etc. get out of the sugar cane business ?
  • What happened to the BIO FUEL idea ?
  • Why we need sugar cane for the Rum Industry
  • Why we need sugar cane for local sugar consumption

Quoted from: FT.com

First, Caribbean cane sugar production is becoming increasingly uneconomic.

Several of Europe’s former Caribbean colonies that export sugar have been producing at a cost about three times the world market price. Their industries have been made viable only because of the high and guaranteed prices paid by the European Union for the shipments under an agreed quota. The producers get the same price the EU pays its domestic sugar producers.

But the EU is changing its policies after complaints from big sugar producing countries, led by Brazil, Thailand and Australia, that argued that European subsidies were unfair. The World Trade Organisation agreed with some of these complaints.

The EU says it will cut guaranteed sugar prices by 36 per cent over four years, starting this year(2007). The reduction will cost the exporters significantly. The loss of foreign earnings being faced by some governments will be compounded by higher jobless rates if industries are unable to survive without the crutch of high artificial prices from Europe. Under the new EU sugar regime, Caribbean sugar producers will receive about 16 cents a pound, compared with a cost of production of between 35 and 40 cents for some of the region’s costly operators.

Answers…

The Barbados Sugar Cane industry as it now exists should not survive; it’s simply not cost effective.

Politicians would have you believe that the sugar cane industry is a major employer and having it collapse would have significant social and economic impacts on the country. I would suggest the opposite, subsidizing its survival will result in social and economic hardships for the country.

Numerous Caribbean countries recognized when the EU cut subsidies that sugar cane production was uneconomical and thus got out of the business.

The Bio Fuel proposal was another political fantasy, any half sane individual would quickly determine the idea was impractical for a small cane producer like Barbados.

Barbados does need to produce sufficient sugar cane to support its well known RUM and Molasses unsubsidized industries.

Yes Barbados should produce sufficient sugar cane to provide for local consumption.

Local Barbadian politicians have to step up to the plate, bite the bullet and stop using Tax Payers money to subsidize an uneconomical industry. They could better spend Tax Payers money on trying to develop some form of agricultural activity to feed the populace and limit food imports.

Let the dinosaur go extinct.

…written by “Mr. Thompson”

59 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Economy, Politics

59 responses to “Barbados Sugar Cane Industry: The dinosaur that fails to go extinct

  1. vancet

    Yeh plant Cannabis Instead you MORONS!

  2. J. Payne

    There’s no way the WTO can turn a blind eye to the LOME Convention and Cotonou Agreements. The WTO’s aim is for a world where no country gets treatment that is any more preferential than any other. So as I see it the only way you can keep “special deals” is essentially a political union. In s political union situation the WTO wont have any say. The Latin American countries also took aim at the Caribbean’s banana industry with Europe.

  3. Micah

    It does not seem to not make sense to continue to produce and sell sugar at a loss, unless there is a belief that the market conditions in Europe are going to change and I have not seen any information suggesting that is likely to happen.

  4. yatinkiteasy

    What about the biggest “byproduct” of the sugar industry, for which Barbados is so well known…RUM!
    Is it right to import molasses from Costa Rica, and make rum with it in Barbados, and then call it “Barbados Rum”?

  5. BFP

    Good point from yatinkiteasy

    There is a big deal going on with wine and champagne as to what can be labeled what from where. If some French grapes end up in wine made in California, does that make it French wine?

    If I make rum from 100% Costa Rica molasses and I make it in Barbados, is it Bajan rum?

    If I take molasses from Barbados to Costa Rica and make rum, is it Bajan rum?

    We defend the Barbados brand with tenacity – except where it is inconvenient to do so. In the case of “Bajan” rum made with imported molasses, it is inconvenient to go into the details!

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    In the USA, Muscovado sugar sells for US$7 per pound or US$14,000 per TON (US).
    What do ‘we’ get for our bulk sugar?

  7. Wily Coyote

    @yatinkiteasy

    Good point, most Bajan’s probably do not know that Barbados has to import 50% of the molasses it uses for RUM production, what a shame it cannot produce enough molasses itself.

    Barbados government is presently supporting the sugar industry to the tune of $28,000,000.00Bds(government stats which always have to viewed with skepticism) a year to keep some 800 full and part time individuals employed. That works out to some $35,000.00Bds per individual per year. Would it not be better to stop cane production, save some money, and just give these 800 people the hand out. Fasciitis Yes, but fits with the government ideals.

  8. Wily Coyote

    @Adrian Loveridge

    The lastest info states the following with respect to sugar pricing…..

    Raw Sugar

  9. Wily Coyote

    @Adrian Loveridge

    Sorry I accidentally kit POST before I was complete.

    The lastest info states the following with respect to sugar pricing…..

    Raw Sugar(Mucovado Gold type) $31.79US per metric tonne
    Refined white sugar $773.40US per metric tonne.

  10. gg

    How about setting up a plant to make refined sugar products for the bottling, baking and tourism industries. We could also export white sugar to Caricom countries.
    Is molasses a by-product of sugar manufacturing?

  11. SMALL FROG

    BFP – why do you and other locals keep talking about “step up to the plate.” ? What plate? A plate of rice ‘n peas?

    This ‘plate’ thing is an American term having to do with baseball. For us it should be “step up to the wicket.” Please correct your misinformation. Thank you.

  12. Please!

    The “step up to the plate” reference comes from American baseball and is not being made by BFP but in an outside submission. Lots of bajans in America FYI.

    Where else has BFP say “step up to the plate”?? that Small Frog say BFP “keep talking” about step up to the plate?

    I smell an agenda in Small Frog’s statement that is untruth.

  13. John

    The trick is to realise that the sugar cane industry is just one form of agriculture requiring agricultural land.

    How can the sugar cane industry be bankrupt if it started out owning a sizeble chunk of Barbados real estate, greater than 65,000 acres?

    At $25.00 per square foot or $1 million per acre, it only takes 200 acres to get to the value of $200,000,000.00.

    How many acres does the sugar cane industry own and control?

    The stated plight of the sugar cane industry, read agriculture, arises from plain ordinary theft of its assets.

  14. Wily Coyote

    @John

    If you know someone who will pay $25 per sq. ft. for agricultural land, please post his/her phone number as I know several people who would like to talk to him/her.
    Also the majority of the agricultural land used for sugar cane production is privately owned and leased to one or more government entities.

    Have not seen much theft (Perennial Larceny) of cane, not exactly a consumer product.

    I agree agricultural land can be used for things other than growing sugar cane. The question is what agricultural crop makes economical sense.

  15. John

    Wily Coyote
    February 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm
    @John

    If you know someone who will pay $25 per sq. ft. for agricultural land, please post his/her phone number as I know several people who would like to talk to him/her.
    Also the majority of the agricultural land used for sugar cane production is privately owned and leased to one or more government entities.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    A few words to illustrate the point.

    Neils, Rowans, Sandy Lane, Westmoreland, Apes Hill, Edgehill, Cane Garden, Husbands, Wanstead, Oxnards, The Lodge, Clermont, Bridgecot, Constant, Groves, Cottage, Farm, New Market, Prerogative, Molyneux, Lancaster, Appleby, Holders, Lascelles, Prior park, Reid’s Bay, Pickerings. Mount Pleasant, Babb’s, Brome Field, Britton’s, Bush Hall, Warrens, Welches, etc. etc. etc.

  16. John

    … and the crime of theft has been perpetrated against as yet unborn generations.

  17. civilsociety

    The main issue to be concerned with here is our rum industry. Most rum now is made from imported molasses, and under current EU rules we are still allowed to say produce of Barbados. But this will come to an end shorly. It is all about content percentages. Wake up people, and realize this before it is over. The rum industry is the only industry that actually has the potential for extra regional export. I don’t see Farmer’s Choice Ham or Pine Hill Dairy milk breaking into extra regional ( or even regional!) markets but rum definetly can.

  18. rasta man

    And then we hear that COTTON prices are at record levels. Didn’t Barbados produce this product at one time ?????

  19. Colin L Beadon

    Doing out bit to Gaia.
    The whole and beautiful landscape of Barbados would be lost, if sugar has to go. If we would consider planting Teak, or more Mahogany, rather than letting the landscape begin to look like the landscape of Antigua, one could understand. One board foot of Teak, in Barbados today, costs 37 dollars. One board foot.
    There will quite quickly become a time now, when the importation of wood will become too costly due to transportation and shortage of good home building timber. We are already just about out of Greenheart, and onto Purpleheart, Kabucali. Pitchpine, we lost years ago.
    So why let the majority of the Barbados landscape turn to Antigua- like scrub? Already we see enough former cane fields, like up around Bath, and Bushy park, have gone to ugly scrub, far from the beauty of arrowing cane in the wind and evening sun.
    In growing trees, in large numbers, we would be doing our bit to Gaia. I don’t mean the airport either.

  20. Thewhiterabbit

    1. Its all about politics.
    2. One value of sugar is that regardless of price of production it is something that can be sold overseas for foreign exchange, needed because the Barbados dollar becomes worth exactly zero three miles off our shores. One way to improve the economics is to stop selling bulk sugar, stupidly believing we can compete with countries with huge acreages, and expand our niche marketing. Try “Barbados Sugar”, not silly names like Plantation Reserve that say nothing about place of origin. Capitalize on the well-known and chic term “Barbados”.
    3. In this small setting there is NO agricultural product that can be grown at a profit, or at least cheaper than it can be imported, other than the ganja referenced in the first comment. The only farmers making a profit are those who are growing houses.
    4. How can an industry be flat broke and the unions negotiate a ten percent pay rise over a couple of years? Who is kidding whom? Rocket scientist wages for agricultural workers is one reason the cost of production is SOOOOOO high.
    5. Rum is made from molasses. Molasses is only the raw material. It can be imported from anywhere. The production, the value-added effort, happens here, so the product, even if made from 100% imported raw material is still Barbadian. If we imported molasses, and then sold the molasses as Barbadian we might be in trouble. Not so with rum, a substance manufactured here. If fermented, distilled, aged, and blended here, it is and will always be Barbados rum. I like to eat molasses, but I much prefer to drink rum, Barbados rum. For those worried about percentage compositon, just remember that the molasses is highly diluted before fermentation, diluted with Barbados water.
    6. Another benefit of the sugar industry is that it is part of the Barbadian identity, our mystique, our appeal to tourists. Now go back and read #2 above, learn to capitalize on the mystique.
    7. The solution is to continue the sugar industry, mostly for its tourist value, but forget the rest of the agricultural sector, dead loss. Get smart and start to improve manufacturing and banking, i.e. learn the lesson from Hong Kong and Singapore. And don’t now feed me the BS about past slavery. Time to get over that bugbear and create a modern, efficient, productive economy and society.

  21. AOD

    The sugar industry is a zombie. John King’s song about wanting a plantation wasn’t sung for the first time yesterday… sugar died a long time ago.

    But special sugar cane varieties created/engineered as a source of molasses, designer canes for lack of a better term; they have a future married to the potential of rum.

    Rum has a future: better profit margins, strong history but must maintain its authenticity, Máximo Extra Añejo retails for $2000 but most people in a blind taste test couldn’t pick it over “Every Saturday And Friday too”. So those profits have more to do with history , culture, snob factor and marketing genius. Lets be real, people visit many wine growing regions in the world for an authentic EXPERIENCE, if it was about the liquid they are better served taking the few thousand dollars for travel and accommodation and have wine tastings at home monthly.

    Its time we make “lemonade” from lime, move forward with rum, package it with tourism, season it with heritage, filter out the emotionality of the slavery issue and pour the profits in our coffers. Whining is for childhood it is long past time to stop it. Time to seize the opportunities to assert our culture, grow our economy and provide a meaningful future for our children.

    Barbados is our Home.

  22. Adrian Loveridge

    AOD,

    ‘Time to seize the opportunities, to assert our culture, grow our economy and provide a meaningful future for our children’.

    So well said!

  23. AOD

    I agree with Thewhiterabbit, moving forward with sugar reborn as a niche product, because as a large scale cash crop, the sugar industry of the past is no more. We lost absolute and comparative advantage with sugar a long time ago and it is well and truly dead…correction undead.

  24. AOD

    @ Adrian Loveridge

    Thank you, keep up the good fight and remember….

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. by Mahatma Gandhi.

  25. Wily Coyote

    @ John

    Nice list of developments that sold to the consumer at high per sq. ft. prices, however go ask the original land owners what they received per sq. ft and I bet most would be happy to say they sold for $5.00Bds or less.

  26. Wily Coyote

    @ all commentary

    I find that more than a few of the commentators, should be in politics, as you have far better ideas than those presently running the country. Congratulations on your ideas.

  27. AOD

    Electioneering and Governance are inversely proportional…..I once worked on an equation to describe the phenomenon but it end in a total mess.

    It is beyond my capable thus I describe it as above.

    Further you cannot run for office for an office you already hold and run that same office….. oh dear what a mess.

  28. cg

    John did you go to UNI in Surrey?

  29. John

    cg
    February 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm
    John did you go to UNI in Surrey?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I had many pleasant experiences down that side of England.

    Further North is all I will say!!

  30. yatinkiteasy

    The “Plantation” Packaged sugar product seemed to be doing well, but has of late disappeared from the Supermarket Shelves. I have bought several as gifts for friends when traveling What happened there?

  31. just want to know

    how much did minister St.Clair get from EU 63 MILLION DOLLARS?, has anyone found out where and what all that money gone into and not just champagne ? ha! ha! ha!

  32. Andy Smith

    I have been musing over the issues raised here and would say to some of your bloggers that you should be careful what you wish for.

    Many countries around the world have devastated their industries in the pursuit of modernisation. They have considered such industries to be too expensive and unsustainable. They then looked to the service industry and finance as a means of growth in their economies. In the recent economic collapse, we saw the housing debacle in the United States wreak havoc with world economies, many of which had structural weaknesses because they had no industrial base. Bizarrely, China—the work-horse of the world—picked up the baton and ran with these very neglected production methods, now to emerge as the world’s second largest economy. Germany, being pragmatic, had learned the lessons of history. They also remain world leaders, with spectacular growth in their economies, despite a world recession.

    I know that Barbados cannot compete with these power houses. The point I am making, however, is that Barbados has a very limited industrial base and the total reliance on tourism can prove to be a foolish and crippling error of judgment.

    The sugar industry in Barbados will not support the Barbados economy on its own but it offers scope for innovative applications. Sugar produced from beet and artificial or chemical sweeteners now offer significant competition in this product area. However, sugar harvesting is wonderful: it filters into the consciousness of the history of Barbados. It almost reminds the individual of a seasonal shift on the island. Yes, there is sugar and rum and juice and molasses. There are bi-products, such as ‘green fuel’, fertilisers, I think, and there is work for a section of the population. Better to pay the latter to do this work than have them draw unemployment benefit.

    It seems to me that there are several other things that cane production supports: books for tourists, cataloguing the history of the sugar industry; historical journals for many of those who are not sure what happened even yesterday and visits to the sugar production establishments. Many tourists visit Barbados because of the nostalgic connection with the history of the island. If Barbados is going to sell itself as commonplace with sameness in the area, why would visitors continue to delude themselves that Barbados is special and is the hub of the Caribbean?

    I cannot instruct Barbadians about what is best for them but I would suggest that they have to consider creative ways of maintaining what they have and keep some semblance of self-reliance. Forget about what other people in other places have done with their sugar industries. The issue is what Barbadians can do for themselves.

  33. Peltdownman

    @Andy Smith

    “many of which had structural weaknesses because they had no industrial base.”

    At last someone has hit the nail on the head. We have yet to realise that the world has changed forever and that new ways of doing things will often coincide with the old way of doing things. For the past 25 years, successive governments of Barbados have been professing that services, not agriculture and manufacturing, are the way forward for this country. The U.S. and the UK have followed the same path. This is precisely why the world cannot climb out of this recession – they have no industrial bases left on which to re-build their economies. In Barbados we would be wise to learn from this, because our economy is faltering through over- dependence on tourism, a service product. But we are, as a nation, lazy and stuck in our ways. I sometimes believe that we just can’t be bothered to think about changing the way we do things. We think that just by waiting it out, everything will revert to what is was. It won’t, and it never will. Now, more than ever, is our chance to change the way we do things. It can start by simply buying local wherever possible – we will be amazed by how much this simple act will preserve and grow jobs. The destruction of the sugar cane industry would be a disaster for the country in terms of tourism for the very reasons outlined by Andy Smith above. One way to ensure that we move forward is to let landowners know in no uncertain terms, that their land cannot and will not be turned over to real estate. Let them find innovative ways to use it, or sell it someone who can. A tax on unused agricultural land would help.

  34. Luc

    Sugar prices are very volatile. And it’s quite likely that sugar with most other commodities will trend down in price for many years to come as the global (depression?) continues. I suspect someone will find a way to greatly increase the yield per acre and/or alter the plant or how it is processed to produce a more profitable type of sugar. e.g. bagasse can used to produce up to about 70% of its weight as Xylitol, a natural, low-calorie ‘sugar’ that is much healthier to use than white-sugar, actually protects teeth from decay and sells about ten times the price of the regular cane-sugar (even at that price it is possible it wouldn’t actually make more profit). In the mean time, a cold, sober analysis of our options needs to be done. Barbados had very good success with Aloe (very few pests, highly nutritious, versatile and very easy to cultivate) and then some success with cotton. Now it seems sea-vegetables is another to consider. Basically, it needs strategic planning as well as an eye for spotting emerging trends.

  35. Luc

    Regarding Bajan Rum using imported molasses. Ideally we should use our own home-grown ingredients, but the Belgians have been making their world-famous Belgian Chocolate with great success and I’m sure they don’t grow cocoa.
    Aside: Can anyone explain to me why Bardados Rum does not smell of sugar cane, but Martinique rum has a gorgeous aroma of sugar cane??

  36. millertheanunnaki

    @ Luc:
    The Belgians don’t grow their own cocoa because the cocoa paste comes from a tropical plant. Growing their own cocoa trees to produce their own cocoa paste would be like Barbados trying to grow red apples instead of golden apples or wheat instead of sugar cane. The reason why Barbados can’t produce enough molasses for rum production is because of incompetence at the BADMC and indifference by the political decision-makers. Molasses has other commercial benefits that can be exploited, i.e. as an animal feed input to enhance the taste and nutritional value; also the refined molasses can be marketed as a health food with medicinal qualities for human consumption.

    You are right about the Martiniquan rum. Sweetest tasting rum a bibber can get and widely available in France in its pure and genuine state (not “watered down” as with Cockspur in the UK.

  37. William Skinner

    Let’s face it. Our agriculture industry is at least forty years behind. We have no substantial processing plants and the new generation of plantation owners used their inheritance to diversify their personal and corporate finances. The taxpayers have been taken for a ride by both the BLP and DLP. All the small sugar farmers were destroyed causing rural economic hardship.
    Samething with tourism. Blatant racism and conspiracy by both the BLP and DLP forced out all the small players and now the industry is struggling because the high end tourists going bankrupt and the quaintness of the product is gone.
    Once again we choose to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

  38. Peltdownman

    I stand to be corrected, but I believe that in Martinique, the rum is distilled from cane juice and not from molasses. This gives it a distinctly different taste, and it was the cause of much consternation in the English-speaking rum producing countries when the EEC tried to rule that the definition of “rum” was the liquor produced the way it is in Martinique, and not from molasses. Fortunately this blatant attempt at protectionism by the French did not succeed. Incidentally, I also believe that the rum produced by St Nicholas Abbey is distilled from cane juice.

  39. Luc

    But why does the rum in Barbados smell so different from that in Martinique? Just wondering what is so different in the process. Surely the Bajan rum starts off with a similar aroma?

  40. millertheanunnaki

    @ William Skinner:
    Here is an opportunity for the political directorate to reinvigorate agriculture, revamp, refocus and modernise the various sub-sectors that can be profitable and save/ earn dwindling foreign exchange.
    The dying conglomerate CLICO has in its asset portfolio some of the most arable and fertile agricultural plantations in the Island. Some of these lands were acquired through the raiding and asset stripping of the defunct Plantations Ltd.
    Can’t the government with the myriad highly qualified technocrats (the Ministry of Agriculture and its adjunct agencies probably have more holders of PhD’s on the payroll than Cornell or MIT per head of staff) come up with a plan to divest these estates to farmers on a cooperative basis and bring them back into productive use with an “eco-friendly, green living” philosophy as the basis of this modern type of farming. When the foreign exchange sinks to very low levels in the coming months we will have no choice but to rely on agriculture as a means of adequately feeding ourselves. No one will be prepared to give us food aid when we have the basic resources to help ourselves.

  41. I told you so

    The poliician aren’t going to do didley squat: Have they ever? They are controlled by their masters and told what to do. You think that our opinions really matter here. If their masters wanted the sugar industry to survive they would have created the environment for it to do so, however they haven’t. All industry will be destroyed not just sugar and if you don’t believe it, look around the world and see the same is happening to other countries no matter what industry they are all involved in. Stop this kind of thinking that the politicians are in control and they can do something. They honestly can’t without the consent of their masters.

  42. Peltdownman

    @Luc
    It’s a long time since I sniffed a Martiniquean rum, but I recall that it had more of the smell of alcohol and tasted a little like schnapps, whereas Barbados rum has those caramel overtones that make it so distictive. Also, Barabdos rum is aged in old Kentucky whiskey barrels, whereas I doubt the Martinique variety is aged at all.

  43. Peltdownman

    Come to think of it, we should start distilling cane juice as well, and take-on the French in their own market.

  44. Christopher Parravicino

    @ Luc
    @ Peltdown
    As far as I know these are two distinctly different processes for making rum. The rum derived from cane juice is known as ‘Rhum Agricole’ and that from molasses as ‘Rhum Industriel’ by the French. Both methods, under EEC, are classified as Rum. I agree that the ‘Agricole’ rum bears more relation in smell and taste to the sugar cane than the ‘Industriel’ which is more like a brandy. The ‘Agricole’ rum is also aged in barrels and comes in white and dark.
    @Everyone else
    Excellent and constructive feedback……The challenge is how to get those who own the lands and those that make the decisions to seriously consider and implement these ideas instead of leaving the good agricultural land idle.

  45. Boy Blue

    In today’s thinking the sugar industry of Barbados for the past 300 years was overseered and maintained by semi-illiterates and full illiterates.It was very much alive and kicking and has made this country proud. Today it is managed by a barifle of Doctors and university graduates and its on its way to Westbury. I tell ya.

  46. Nostradamus

    @ Luc
    Aside: Can anyone explain to me why Bardados Rum does not smell of sugar cane, but Martinique rum has a gorgeous aroma of sugar cane??

    My understanding in layman’s language is that Martiniquan rum is fermented while our is distilled like most rums.

  47. Luc

    @Christopher Parravicino: Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like the correct explanation. I guess the name implies Farm / Plantation Rum vs. Factory Rum. Barbados rum being more like whiskey.
    Strange the Rum Agricole (cane juice variety) does not exist at all from Barbados.

  48. Luc

    @Peltdownman: I’ll check out the St Nicholas Abbey rum.

  49. Boy Blue

    And what is the future of the land between Newton Plantation and St Davids, the fields of which produced canes last year, but now seem to be neglected, with some fields containing young canes being mowed.

  50. Christopher Parravicino

    @Luc
    I have asked the same and have been told that it takes too much of the cane juice that is more profitable if refined into sugar. The molasses is a by-product of the sugar process, so makes sense to use it, even if we import, than discarding. In using cane juice to make ‘Rhum Agricole’ there are no by-products that can be used from the process so does not make sense to produce unless it is financially viable. According to friends in Martinique, the French Government also heavily subsidises the sugar indistries in its ‘Departements’.

  51. Softly comes the storm

    FOOD! We should grow food crops. There is no future in cane ethanol becuase it is almost a zero sum game when you factor in the energy used to crop and transport it. WE NEED FOOD!

  52. rasta man

    I keep asking about aloes but no one is listening or answering.

  53. Colonel Buggy

    rasta man
    October 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    I keep asking about aloes but no one is listening or answering.
    ***************************************************************************
    the only Aloe that most people are interested in is the Alow -income housing type.

  54. The Oracle

    I drink aloes and noni juice every a m in a smoothie and expect to live to 160 years…I am now 110.

  55. The Sugar Industry is essentially a business, there is a raw material supplier who sells their cane at the factory gate, fundamentally that is the end of their involvement unless there is some sort of quality upift payment. The factory makes the product, raw cane sugar (Andrews all the time) fancy table sugar (Portvale occasionally) the factory owner (who is that) decides how much of each type of sugar to produce depending on demand I guess and I would hope what is most profitable. Then there is the sales and marketing department who studies the world sugar demand and fashion and contracts to supply lets say, organic or raw or whatever sugar. (Mauritius started supplying premium priced specialty sugar Muscovado light and dark, Demarara etc. (and I even say them sell “Barbados” sugar in a British supermarket which caused a bit of a ho ha) some 25 years ago and Mauritius have done very well).
    Who is responsible for the sales and marketing of the sugar. I mean to invest in new factory facilities would take time money and planning and so like in any business the sales and particularly the “marketing” is crucial, without seeing ahead you do not have a business. Well as far as I can see it is the Barbados government, it is politicians (or civil servants) who sign off on the deals to supply UK or EU or whatever. Have you ever seen government do business well and sales and marketing in particular. Look how thy sell themselves.

    The ownership structure is all wrong to ever have a successful business and the fat that is has survived this long is due to how good the business was in the first place. It should have been privatised years ago and into at least two companies would provide some competition.

    A few spin offs who have access to cheap sugar from the factories have tried this on the side try following the money there and see where it leads.

  56. Sith

    The reality of the new world economy is products like rum are made and bottled under licence. The reality of sugar and rum pricing is reflected in the price of rums. A 1.75 litre bottle of 5 year old rum can be purchased for $7.00 US in Guyana and $13.00 US in Florida. The cheapest bottle in Barbados of “Barbados rum” is about $20 US. It won’t be long before the competitive model will dictate that Barbados rum that is now exported will be made in the market in which it is sold. Bacardi rum is made everywhere.

  57. @ Sith Remember the actual price per bottle is much less than what you see it on the shelf for. Government excise duty can make a big difference. However productivity in Barbados is very low has also been getting worse with time and not better. But people are prepared to pay a premium for quality and Barbados does produce very good rum, so does Guyana mind you.

  58. Boar Crab

    The landscape in Barbados has changed in the last 20 years or so as a direct result of less cultivation of sugar,,,,We now have an increasing low forest coverage especially in St.Andrew,St.Joseph,St.John,,and it will continue with the removal of sugar cane,,,,Who knows ,,the present existing last stand of virgin (so called rain forest) in Turners Hall Woods may well expand ,,,and then we can truly have Eco tourism on a micro scale compared to Costa Rica,Ecuador,Guatemala,El Salvador,,,,etc,,,,
    Ireally think we have to keep a certain amount of land under cane,,,to be self sufficient in sugar,,to process Barbados’s type of sugar for Health Shops worldwide,,to keep creating a reknown blend of Rum (whether it be unhealthy or not) that has become like wine familiar to the taste buds of millions who because of good mrketing spend millions that reflect on our export and sustain our projections towards our balancing our foreign currency reserves.

  59. Pingback: US Ambassador to Barbados, 2006: Owen Arthur’s sugar decision “defies logic and sours prudent budget” | Barbados Free Press