Less than three years after stepping down as Director of Accounting at the Department of Agriculture, University of the West Indies Campus Registrar Mona, Dr. Donovan Stanberry, will today take a virtual trip back in time, with the launch of his book, How trade liberalization affects a sugar-dependent community in Jamaica: global action, local impact.
The book, a spin-off of Stanberry’s doctoral dissertation he defended in 2017, which examined the social and environmental impacts of the government’s adaptation strategy for the sugar industry on the sugar-dependent zone from Monymusk, is informed by the insight of a boy from Vere who grew up in the sugarcane belt and observed firsthand the stratification that occurred and how it played out in terms of defining relationships social in the wider community of Clarendon, beyond the cane fields, the factory and the farm.
Stanberry’s plot of an entire community’s reliance on this one industry would go a long way to fueling his interest in the lure of sugarcane, and as fate would have it, his career gave him a seat in the at the forefront of geopolitics that would redefine the role of sugar in Jamaica and reshape its grip on the local economy.
“As an agricultural economist by training, I have always been struck by the fact that we have always tended to look at things from a macroeconomic point of view. We always talked about employment, the failure of divestment, the impact on gross domestic production and those kinds of macro statistics, but rarely did anyone zoom in on those statistics and wonder what they mean in the life of an ordinary person? ” he said the gleaner ahead of today’s launch.
The irony for Stanberry is that Jamaica knew the sugar drop was coming, long before it happened, but still failed to prepare for life after. The high unemployment rate and other negative impacts left by the loss of our preferential access to the European market seemed to have caught the local authorities off guard.
“It not only caused the collapse of local production, but also devastated entire sugar-dependent communities,” lamented the former official.
As it focuses on the area from Monymusk to Clarendon, the devastating impact of the fallout is replicated in North Trelawny, and is blamed for the ongoing crime surge in Westmoreland and the devastating grip that poverty had over the parish of St Thomas, since Sugar lost his place as king.
The book clearly shows the lack of vision of successive political administrations which have failed to put in place significant measures of diversification, and the author makes a very strong case of the lack of imagination of our leaders.
Using case studies of countries of similar size and profile to Jamaica, such as Mauritius and Belize, which faced the same set of circumstances – loss of preferential treatment and communities that were almost totally dependent on the sugarcane, Stanberry shows that they were able to reform and restructure their economies around sugarcane by exploiting its versatility.
“In addition to sugar, the cane also gives alcohol, as well as bagasse which, in addition to making a preformed plank, can also be burned to produce electricity. So there are other products that can come from sugar and they have been able to do that and build a strong industry that will survive the changes in the European market,” he said. the gleaner.
Along with identifying mistakes and mishaps of the past, Stanberry also offers some recommendations for reviving sugar, but highlights some glaring missed opportunities as well as misplaced priorities.
For example, he notes that while traveling along Highway 2000 south of Clarendon, one cannot help but notice the nearly 40,000 acres of former sugar land that has been washed away. Stanberry points out that there aren’t many cultures that can easily replace sugar.
“If you plant 40 acres of tomatoes, which is only one percent of those plots, in three months when the tomatoes come in, you’ll have a glut because our market is small and can’t absorb that much. So we have to deal with some kind of export crop or crops that can feed industry, like orchard crops that can go into juice making.
To know more about How trade liberalization affects a sugar-dependent community in Jamaica: global action, local impact from an insider, be at The Undercroft, UWI, Mona, today at 5:30 p.m.