Statement by the Hon. Derrick Kellier, CD, MP - Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

Re: Cane Fires in Frome

February 24, 2016


The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is alarmed at reports emerging from Westmoreland of a spate of cane fires at Frome over the weekend which has affected some 39,000 tonnes of sugar cane. This has been followed by another set of fires today affecting another 4,000 tonnes of cane.

These fires will result in considerable economic loss to both the estate and the farmers and, ultimately, workers and the rest of the wider Frome community which depends on the sugar cane industry for its economic survival.

The Ministry has been working through the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) and the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings (SCJ Holdings) to sensitize the citizenry of Westmoreland about the value of the sugar industry to that parish and the country and the grave danger of engaging in illicit fires.

Against the background of the ongoing sensitisation campaign, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is particularly disappointed with the illegal activities in recent days. This could not happen at a worse time as the industry is currently struggling to complete the 2016 crop successfully, given the delay in the opening of the Appleton factory due to circumstances that have been well publicised.

In the circumstances, we are appealing to the perpetrators of these illicit activities to cease and desist and we urge citizens in the affected areas to exercise maximum vigilance to assist in halting these illegal cane fires.

The Ministry, through the SIA and the SCJ holdings will continue to work with Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, the Cane Farmers Association, citizens and other stakeholders to educate everyone as to the value of the industry and the need to protect it.