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#1971: HASCO Sugar Investment: Durban comments (fwd)
From: Lance Durban <email@example.com>
Further to Merrill's comments on the Haitian sugar
industry, I recall an oservation made about the time that
HASCO closed that returns per hectare of cane planted in
Haiti were way below what was available in the DR.
This is the real bottom line, because the effort to grow,
harvest and transport raw cane is a very expensive
proposition... in Haiti, an entire railroad was used for
the tranportation aspect alone. By definition, you need a
pretty large operation just to obtain the economies of
scale to compete. If the yield per hectare in Haiti was
low and declining, it probably had something to do with the
grower (HASCO? other landowners? peasants?) not investing
in the irrigation systems and fertilizer needed to produce
a higher quality cane in the first place, but still having
to transport what was grown to the sugar mill for
Why did HASCO not invest more in the fields? At the time,
the Mevs family (HASCO) was plowing money into their
Shodacosa Industrial Park, which probably looked like a
better bet. Conceivably that decision could have (and
probably did for awhile) ease Port-au-Prince's unemployment
problems by providing factory space for the then booming
assembly sector. Unfortunately, being a landlord is not
the same as being the actual manufacturer. Many of the
better foreign tenants (employers) are reluctant to return
for all of the obvious reasons, although I understand many
of the buildings still function quite as warehouses for the
wealth of imports arriving.
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