KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 9, 2009 - Despite setbacks in its sugar industry Jamaica led production in February among Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) member states.
A release from the SAC says that in February, Jamaica produced 26,038 tonnes of sugar, compared to Belize's 10,503 tonnes; Guyana's 7,928 tonnes; and Barbados' 1,072 tonnes, following its late start on February 24.
Only four countries in the English-speaking region continue to export sugar. Trinidad and Tobago ceased production about two years ago. Total output by the four countries in February was 45,541 tonnes, with year-to-date production being 86,581.
However, Chairman of the SAC and General Manager of Jamaica Cane Product Sales, Karl James, said it is too early to say whether Jamaica will meets its target of 139,000 tonnes for the 2008/2009 crop.
"This reaping season has been one of the best ever, in recent times. It is taking fewer canes to produce the sugar, but it is early days yet. I think the end of March figures will give us a better indication, but those figures won't be ready until probably next week," he said.
According to the SAC, the region exported 35,054 tonnes of sugar to the European Union (EU) in February, bringing total sugar export to the EU to 155,296 tonnes. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) received 216 tonnes. Cumulative exports, including Complementary Quantities, United States and world market exports, added up to 163,720, of which 118,000 tonnes were from Guyana.
Jamaica has been trying to divest its five factories since moving to transform the industry, following the European Union's decision to reform its sugar regime in 2005/2006.
The huge debt burden of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ), which manages the government-owned factories, is also a major factor. The government has been looking for other private sector investors, since negotiations with Brazilian firm, Infinity Bio-Energy, fell through in January.