Jamaica Gleaner / Western Bureau:

Following a slight delay, the Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) will get its 2017-2018 crop year at the Frome Sugar Factory going tomorrow, three weeks later than previously announced.

“We had to delay because of the weather … . There has been constant rainfall over the past days,” Diana Sun, a spokesperson for the Chinese-owned PCSC, told The Gleaner last week. “We intend to burn our cane on December 9 (yesterday), so production will begin on December 11.”

The PCSC is hoping to realise about 26,000 tonnes of sugar from its efforts this year. It is also hoping for greater cooperation from locals to combat illicit cane fires, which have negatively affected production in recent years.

The PCSC operation, which is led by CEO Liu Chaoyu, will also take charge of production at Monymusk again, backtracking from an earlier position that it would not operate the factory, a situation that forced the Jamaican Government to operate the St Elizabeth facility last year.

Under government operations last year, Monymusk fell short of the ambitious 15,000 metric tonnes it targeted, producing only 11,230 metric tonnes of sugar from 176,029 tonnes of cane. The projection for this coming crop year is approximately 14,000, but the output will rest heavily on the Government standing by its commitment to supply 150,000 tonnes of cane to support the Lionel Town-based factory’s operation.

The Golden Grove Sugar Factory in St Thomas, which has accumulated approximately $4 billion in losses – including $450 million last year since the Seprod group acquired it in a 2009 deal with the Government – is another factory entering the new crop year strong on optimism.

Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod, is expecting the company’s operation to churn out approximately 14,000 tonnes of sugar.

“We are still optimistic that things will get better, so we will continue to run the plant and hope that we will get some luck next year,” said Pandohie.

Worthy Park Estate, in St Catherine, produced an impressive 26,076 metric tonnes of sugar from 261,582 tonnes of cane last year and is aiming for 25,000 tonnes from this year’s crop; while Appleton Estate is looking to produce 21,000 tonnes of sugar this year.

“It is an interesting time,” said Allan Rickards, chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers’ Association.

“The projection of 100,000 tonnes of cane is possible, if the weather is kind to us, and I am confident that that is possible.”

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