On the grind

After a late start, the wheels of the 2024 sugar cane harvest finally began to turn on Monday.

Just after sunrise, some workers were already busy in fields across the country to get a head start on the harvesting.

Shortly after, large trucks were seen transporting loads of cane to Portvale Factory in Blowers, St James, for weighing and grinding.

Some workers said they expected to go as late as 6 p.m.

A DAILY NATION team visited Portvale and fields such as Branford, just off Dash Valley, and Edgecumbe Plantation’s 23 acres at Upper and Lower Woodside Drive, also in St George, around noon to get an assessment of the progress.

Lennox Morgan was one of the several people fully outfitted in a hazmat suit as he assisted with cane cutting by hand on the 16-acre plot.

He braved the afternoon sun as he worked alongside the mechanical harvester.

Morgan, who said he had been working hard since 7 a.m., added that despite minor hiccups, he was pleased with the progress made.

“Today isn’t too bad. We had a little hiccup waiting on a truck but otherwise everything going good for now,” he said.

Another worker who did not want to be identified was taking a break under some trees.

“We were looking forward to getting back to work so we were glad this day came. Starting late is usual but I just hope we get to do more than we did last year to meet what the new group projecting,” he said.

Since January, Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society Limited (CoopEnergy) took over operations of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company by forming two new cooperatives – Barbados Energy and Sugar Company Inc. and the Agricultural Business Company Ltd.

The cooperatives are now responsible for BAMC’s sugar cane growing and milling business, and sugar production and sale, its by-products, operations of Portvale and its generation of electric power into the national grid.

Last Friday, chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited, Mark Sealy, said that although the 2024 crop could surpass the 90 000 tonnes of sugar produced last year, he would have preferred for grinding to start on or before February 15.

On Monday, Clifford Cox, who was overseeing the harvesting of Edgecumbe’s plot in St George, said the process had been going smoothly. He agreed that an earlier start would have been better.

“The earlier the better because the cane could start to dry out . . . . So it is a setback but we should be able to get through everything, hopefully in a good time. It would have been better for the cane if we got to cut it a little earlier because we would get better sugar content,” Cox said.

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