Louisiana company has a plan for the Imperial Valley that just might bring the sweet taste of prosperity to our area.
Arkel Sugar, Inc. of Baton Rouge wants to take the byproducts of Imperial Valley sugar cane and sweet sorghum crops and use those products at a plant it would build in the Valley to produce ethanol for power. According to Arkel, the plant and its related operations could bring 4,500 much-needed jobs to the Valley, would strengthen the local agricultural industry, which has been struggling in recent years, and would not create significant pollution problems. On top of that, Valley farmers could double dip, making money from the crops and then making money again from what's left over after harvest.
Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it may not be, but a lot has to happen for the plan to come to fruition.
First the company needs 38,000 acres of sugar cane growing and 34,000 acres of sweet sorghum growing in the Valley before it fires up the plant. That is the first dilemma because there are fewer than 1,000 acres of both sugar cane and sweet sorghum planted in the Valley. But recent experiments done by University of California researchers have shown sugar cane can flourish here as a commercial crop, and with markets for other traditional Valley crops anywhere from bad to mediocre, it might be easy to entice Valley growers to try sugar cane. Whether the company can get 38,000 acres of sugar cane and 34,000 acres of sweet sorghum is another matter.