The State will stop injecting close to 30 million US dollars annually to the sector and this will give way to the transition process, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, told the press.
We would first start with the employee entitlement program and then also with shares available to the public, he said.
Last time we granted the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd. a subsidy of 10 million US dollars and we contributed some 17 million through the Portvale factory for the purchase of canes, he said.
The sugar industry of this Caribbean island suffered a decrease at the beginning of this century when the cost of production increased and the price of sugar droped sharply in the international market.
This situation caused the industry to decline and, consequently, the closure of eight of the 10 factories. Currently, only Portvale Sugar Factory, in the parish of St. James, and Andrews Sugar Factory, in the parish of St. Joseph, are in operation.
The 2008 harvest ended with some 31,600 tons of sugar produced, 2,300 tons less than in 2007, while last year the figure was 5,200 tons, practically enough to satisfy domestic consumption and tourism demand.
Barbados found help in several agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU), which accepted sugar at preferential prices, but recently drastically reduced the value they were willing to pay to protect their sugar beet.
The nation of nearly 300,000 people is the wealthiest and most developed in the Eastern Caribbean, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the Americas, focused on finance and services, wholesale and retail trade as well as the travel industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture, once the backbone of the economy mainly due to its sugar production, focuses its actions on a Food Security Plan.