Barbados’ sugar farmers say are they are extremely disappointed by the highly critical remarks of economist Sir Frank Alleyne, who has blamed what he called the laziness of the large sugar plantation owners for the declining state of the sector.
Addressing the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s weekly lunch time lecture last Friday, Sir Frank a retired University of the West Indies economics professor and the former Chairman of Government’s Council of Economic Advisers, said Barbados was now selling sugar at a tremendous loss and that the local sector had stagnated while other countries surged ahead. And he says the large sugar plantation owners are to blame.
But Patrick Bethell, Chairman of Barbados Sugar Industries Limited, BSIL, the umbrella body for the private sector sugar farmers, insists the farmers are working hard to improve output.
And says he expects an improved yield this year moving from the roughly eight thousand tonnes of sugar produced in 2016 to about 12 thousand tonnes this year. He said, “the independent farmers I represent are still very committed and we are doing everything possible, ergonomically and from a management perspective to improve our yields. And, you’re going to see a better crop this year, not only because of the better weather (rainfall), but because of all the steps that the farmers are taking.”
Mr. Bethell says there’s no basis for Sir Frank’s criticism of the private cane farmers. He adds that although he doesn’t mind being criticized, farmers must know what they’re doing wrong and be shown a “better way”.