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Last updated: 12 March, 2007 - Published 16:25 GMT
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Barbados revamps sugar sector
Sugar cane
Sugar is struggling in some Caribbean countries
Barbados is restructuring its sugar industry, in part by taking some of its export sugar upmarket.

The reforms are in response to price-slashing in its main European Union market.

The Agriculture Minister of Barbados, Erskine Griffith, said the new premium sugar, called Plantation Reserve, will be sold in UK supermarkets from this month.

"Plantation Reserve is intended for the top tier of the market," Senator Griffith said.

He also told the BBC that sugar cane will also be used to produce 30 megawatts of electricity for sale to the national grid, 14 million litres of ethanol initially to add to gasoline and high grade molasses for use in rum manufacturing.

Sen. Griffith said it was hoped the reforms would revive the industry.

He reiterated that the island had no plans to get out of sugar cane as some other Caribbean nations have done, partly as a result of the EU price cuts.

Coarser and lighter

From July 2006, the EU began reducing the price -- by 36 percent over four years -- following reform of the subsidy-laden EU sugar regime.

A new company, the West Indies Sugar and Trading Company, has been set up to export and sell Plantation Reserve.

It is a joint venture involving the state-backed Barbados Agricultural Management Company, the privately-owned Goddard Enterprises Limited and British investors.

The company's website describes the new cane sugar as naturally coarser and lighter and taken from specially selected canes.

"In fact, less than one in every hundred canes make the grade," it said.

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