Friday, April 19, 2024

$60M loss

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Sugar’s losses are likely to hit the $60 million mark this year.The dire news has come from company secretary of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL), Stuart Martin.The prolonged drought and a spate of cane fires contributed to the loss.A drop in sugar prices and the lower value of the euro also share the blame, he told the SUNDAY SUN.“I am estimating that the losses will be over $80 a ton of cane for every ton of cane produced by the independent estates in the year 2010,” he said Friday.“This loss is quite a lot due to the fact that the Europeans this year cut the (sugar) price by 23.6 per cent and on top of that the euro itself has dropped very considerably.“It means that the loss in the industry perhaps will be $60 million in the year to 2010 and it doesn’t look as though it will improve because, as the production level gets smaller, the cost per ton of cane goes up.”According to Martin, “the losses would include the BAMC (Barbados Agricultural Management Company Limited), which produces 40 per cent of the cane and BSIL, which produces 60 per cent and also the cost of running the factories, which is considerable”.Martin spoke against the backdrop of a meeting during which officials and growers said the industry’s long-standing problems include land being taken out of agriculture, fluctuating exchange rates, high production costs versus low prices and too much cane needed to produce a ton of sugar.During the meeting at Hilton Barbados, scientist Dr E. Kendall Pye of Canada’s Lignol Energy Corporation spoke to cane-growers and other industry people about his research into high-value products such as ethanol and lignin which can help Barbados increase earnings.Martin said BSIL had come up with a model using about 150 000 tons of cane to produce lignin, ethanol and furfural and other chemicals. “The arithmetic looks much better than what you get out of sugar,” he reported. “Lignin sells for US$1 per pound. That would be $4 400 a ton in Barbados currency and right now we are only getting $800 a ton for our sugar. Pye said in an interview that a $50 million to $80 million investment in bio-refining can help Barbados reverse losses in its sugar industry and turn a neat profit.  Barbados needs to invest in technologies to produce a range of high-paying goods, according to Pye.

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