Diversification: Change the uses, not the crop!

The issue of diversification and niche markets was a recurring theme in the morning discussion.

Arguing that “no crop has only one use,” Professor Al Binger suggested that instead of following the usual advice to switch to another crop, it would be better to switch to other uses of an existing crop.

Taking the example of sugar, he argues there are two good reasons to leave the farmers growing a crop they know well and is suited to the environment and changing the uses made of that crop.

The financial case: When grown for sweeteners, 10 tons of sugar cane is worth around 250 dollars, but if used for energy it can be worth 1200 dollars [in the Caribbean].

The environmental case: Growing sugar cane for its biomass instead of for its sucrose, it can be “just like an oil well” – but with all the advantages of a renewable energy source.

Listen to the interview:

Arnold Thomas of the OECS Embassy in Brussels reflects on Professor Binger’s presentation:

See more from the 4 July briefing

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