Jamaica sugar estate tries harvesting cane without burning to boost yield, qualityJamaica sugar estate tries harvesting cane with environment in mind
Monday, February 11, 2008
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A Jamaican sugar estate has started harvesting green cane to improve the quality of the crop and cut environmental damage from the old practice of burning fields during harvest, a government statement said Sunday.
Roughly 100 cutters at the government-run Frome Sugar Factory in rural Westmoreland parish are now reaping fresh, green cane instead of the traditional burned cane. Under the old system, farmers burned cut cane lying in the fields to destroy the sugarless leaves and to fertilize the soil with ash.
But there now is increased global demand for green cane, which costs the Sugar Company of Jamaica less energy to process and stays fresher longer. Environmentally, there is no air pollution from burning and less need for chemicals to kill weeds that sprout in the burned fields.
"Within three to four days, the burned cane starts to spoil," said Lucius Jackson, a Westmoreland farmer who provides cane to the factory. "The green cane will last up to six days, and the juice stands up just the same."
The European Union, the chief market for Jamaica' struggling sugar industry, has called for all imports to be derived from green cane by 2010, said Aston Smith, vice president of operations for the Frome plant.
Jamaica's state-owned sugar company has been squeezed by deep cuts in EU subsidies for producers in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific and will be privatized later this year after years of amassing debt.
In 2005, the Jamaican government announced a plan to restructure the sugar industry to focus production more on ethanol and molasses. But the majority of Jamaica's cane harvest still is used to produce sugar.
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