Wray and Nephew commits over $500m in support to Appleton communities
J Wray and Nephew chairman Clement "Jimmy" Lawrence said the company will continue to provide technical and financial support to various social causes, projects and initiatives that aim to empower the residents.
Farmers and communities impacted by the closure of the Appleton Sugar Factory will benefit from over $500 million assistance programme from the parent company, J Wray & Nephew Limited.
The intervention programme will be spread over a three-year period, beginning in August 2020 and ending in 2023.
In a statement on Friday, J Wray & Nephew said that it was fully conscious of the dislocation that the closure of the Appleton Sugar factory would have on the communities that have benefitted directly and indirectly from the operations of the plant for over a century.
Consequently, the company has apportioned a significant budgetary allocation to assist with immediate concerns and an orderly transition to more economically viable options such as cash crops supplemented with a major thrust on entrepreneurial training.
JWN’s support will comprise several infrastructural projects; land transfer to employees and other settlers on the Appleton Estate; establishment of a scholarship trust to provide financial support for the students of the affected families; funding of an employee transition assistance project and a partnership with the Sydney Pagon High School, create a mini agro processing facility in the area.
The latter will allow for crops such as breadfruit to be dried, milled, packaged and stored, and will be a game changer in transitioning the sugar dependent belt to more economically viable crops.
In the short term, J Wray & Nephew through its JWN Foundation will implement several Social Intervention Programmes, delivery of care packages to individuals in the affected communities and provide back to school readiness support to schools for the 2020/2021 academic year.
J Wray Nephew’s Chairman, Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence said, “Although the company has halted sugar cane processing at the Appleton factory, our commitment to the community will not waver. Indeed, we are deeply invested and remain the largest employer in the area through the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Tour (JS-AERE) and the Appleton Estate Distillery which remain open.”
Lawerence said the company will continue to provide technical and financial support to various social causes, projects and initiatives that aim to empower the residents.
“Our relationship with the people of Siloah, Thornton, Balaclava and Maggotty continues,” Lawrence noted.
What’s more, JWN will be moving to secure people’s homes with a land titling project and secure their livelihood with land grants.
Additionally, the company said it will be undertaking several social intervention projects such as hosting a back to school fair, undertaking bartending training through the JWN Academy and in collaboration with our tourism partners we will hold training and certification for tourism jobs, as well as, broader economic support initiatives.
“By supporting the impacted communities in the transition from sugar cane cultivation, it is our hope to better enable the residents to capitalise on the economic and social opportunities that will arise; and to improve earning potential and empower and educate the next generation,” Lawrence said.
J Wray and Nephew Limited said it is also moving to ease the transition of the 370 third party cane farmers who normally supply the Appleton Sugar Factory with canes by providing more than $200 million in direct and indirect support.
The company has stated that it will provide a transportation subsidy of $75 million per year for the next three years to allow for the canes to be taken from the Siloah sugar belt to Frome in Westmoreland.
To demonstrate its seriousness JWN has already written off the balance of $42 million loan to cane farmers made in 2016.
The company stated that despite the losses, it will continue to provide support as it is committed to living its core values.
In an earlier release, J Wray & Nephew Limited stated that the management of the farm will be divested to a third-party company with knowledge of the sugar operations that will reemploy a significant number of the 370 employees impacted.
The employees will be afforded generous separation packages and additionally there are plans to alleviate the impact on third party farmers.