PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE: Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Clifton De Coteau, left, visits the sugar factory at Rochard Douglas Road, Barrackpore, yesterday. At right is owner Mungal Singh. —Photo: Louis B Homer

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$9m sugar factory to open in March

By Louis B Homer

A privately-owned sugar mill, estimated to cost $9 million, is expected to begin operation next month, according to Mungal Singh, owner of the facility.

Yesterday, Clifton De Coteau, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, visited the factory to get an on-the-spot demonstration of what to expect when the factory is up and running.

Referring to the time when the factory at Usine Ste Madeleine, owned by Caroni (1975) Ltd, ceased operations in 2003, De Coteau said: "We have to do everything possible to retain and sustain our heritage in all forms that are possible. Just imagine the children of tomorrow will not be able to understand the operations of cane grinding had it not been for the initiative of entrepreneurs like Mr Mungal Singh."

Caroni (1975) Ltd closed down in 2003, leaving some 8,000 people out of work.

The Minister also noted that when the sugar museum, now under construction at Brechin Castle, is completed, the new factory, which is located on Rochard Douglas Road, near Smart Village, Barrackpore, will provide further information about the sugar producing process.

De Coteau said his Ministry is constantly in search of ways and means to keep the cultural and other aspects of Trinidad heritage alive.

"We are now working on several projects since my Ministry was given responsibility for all heritage matters, but these things take time to restore," he said.

Mungal Singh said when the factory begins operation there will be two shifts, each having 20 workers on the production line.

He explained that the factory will have the capacity to grind 80 to 100 tonnes of cane per day, with the sugar cane purchased from farmers in the Barrackpore area.

"In addition to grinding cane into domestic sugar, the mill will produce molasses and bagasse," said Singh.

"We already have a market for the sugar and bagasse, but we are currently exploring the possibility of selling the molasses to Angostura Ltd."

Singh, who has been involved in the sugar cane industry since he was a child, said: "We used a consultant to design the factory, got all the necessary approvals from the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) and other relevant Government authorities."

Asked whether there is sufficient water in the area to operate the factory, Singh said: "Water will not be a problem, we have already dug two deep ponds to supply the water needed."

The factory will be run by diesel power.

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