Barbados: Glory days of sugar gone

The days of the mass production of sugar in Barbados are long gone.

Cleviston Haynes, the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, said last Friday in response to a query about the state of the sugar industry, where low production, high costs and dwindling land under cultivation are impacting on the revival of this once prosperous sector.

Haynes recalled that in the 1960s Barbados was producing approximately 200,000 tons of the sweetener. The Governor further revealed that when he first joined the Central Bank of Barbados, sugar production was about 135,000 tons. That was in 1980.

The industry has not seen that level of output since, he reminded the media, noting that production currently is under 10,000 tons. “We are not going to get back to the glory days of sugar production. That is a given and we have to determine what we want from the sugar cane industry while making the distinction between the sugar cane industry and the sugar industry, because maybe there is something that we can get out of the industry other than sugar,” he remarked.

The Governor queried whether production of sugar will be just for the domestic market, while noting that currently the country is not exporting the commodity.

He said that the options are to produce 7,500, or 10,000 or 20,000, but the bottom line is that Barbados will not get back to the stage when it produced huge volumes of sugar.

The Governor also suggested that Barbados needs to diversify its agriculture.