Since August 2020, the PPP/C Government has been progressively investing in the sugar industry to revitalise the industry, increasing productivity, and creating employment opportunities.
This occurred as a direct result of the sector’s deterioration under the previous government tenure in Office.
This was affirmed by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha during day three of the budget debates in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
“The decline of the sugar industry did not start under the PPP/C government…In 2014, the last full year for us when we were in office, sugar grew by 16 per cent. We made a target of 216,357 metric tonnes. In 2015, for half a year when they took over the government in March…The sugar industry started to decline…It went to a seven per cent increase in the sugar industry at that point,” Minister Mustapha pointed out.
He further cited that in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, the sugar industry declined by 21 per cent, 25 per cent, 24 per cent, and 12 per cent respectively.
With the closure of four sugar estates in 2016 and 2017, about 7,000 sugar workers were placed on the breadline. This also caused economic impacts on the communities and the sector.
“When we went to these estates, we inherited damaged punts, factories were damaged, fields were abandoned. We had to make resources available to ensure that we got back these factories into operation. We are standing to our promises that we have made,” Minister Mustapha noted.
In 2023, the sugar sector received an investment of $8.1 billion to continue the growth of the industry. This also reflects a decrease of 22 per cent when compared to 2022.
Another notable achievement was the reopening of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate in September 2023.
“In just three years, the sugar industry has once again become vibrant. We are seeing growth in the sugar industry. We have seen a 28 per cent growth in the sugar industry last year. This year, it will further grow another 66 per cent to ensure that we make 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar. That is the turnover that we are talking about,” Minister Mustapha disclosed.
Currently, the sector employs over 8,000 workers as of December 2023, and since 2020, over 4,000 new employees have been employed.