2011 sugar production now targeted at 240,000 tonnes
-Omar Shariff tipped to be new GuySuCo Chairman
By Leonard Gildarie
The country’s sugar production, according to latest projections, is expected to fall way
below an already adjusted target.
Updating Kaieteur News, officials of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) yesterday said that from all indications sugar output is expected to touch just 240,000 tonnes for the year.
While this is 20,000 more than last year’s 220,000 tonnes, it will be a disappointment for the government and GuySuCo alike. They are hoping that the industry performs far better than last year when the industry recorded one of its worst performances in two decades.
At the beginning of the year, with almost 500,000 tonnes of cane left in the fields from 2010, GuySuCo has ambitiously projected a 2011 target of 300,000 tonnes. This was later adjusted to 282,000 tonnes and in the third quarter, there was a resignation to the fact that even this new target will not be met.
A combination of factors, including low yields, continues to bedevil a sector that has one of the largest workforces in the country and is a significant contributor to the foreign exchange earnings.
While this significance has been slipping in recent years as GuySuCo tallied a consistent record of annual losses, government has invested more than US$180M to build a new factory at Skeldon, East Berbice, in the hopes of cutting losses in the country.
Another major investment of US$13M was made to build a packaging facility at Enmore Estate earlier this year.
But several technical problems continued to plague the sugar sector with a falling work force, bad weather and low yield affecting again this year’s final production.
All eight estates are grinding now. According to GuySuCo officials, while losses will not be in the vicinity of 2010, obviously the below target production will heavily impact on revenues.
The Corporation has been aggressively working to expand more cane lands, especially in the Berbice area, and converting the current fields to be more machine-friendly for harvesters.
There have been several cash injections from the past administration to boost GuySuCo.
In 2009, there was a $4B cash injection with lands being sold to government for housing schemes.
Late last year, the Corporation battled a tight financial position forcing an announcement that wages and salaries will be postponed.
Last year, workers’ attendance was also at an all time low– under 50 per cent– and was being blamed for low production.
While there was more than adequate cane on ground, there was not enough time or workers to handle the demand in the factories.
Meanwhile, as a result of the recent General and Regional elections, GuySuCo is likely to see a new Chairman taking the helm of that state-owned entity.
Industry sources said that Omar Shariff, a long-time stalwart of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, is tipped for that crucial position.
Shariff has also been given the nod to be the new Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President, taking over from Dr. Nanda Gopaul who is now the Minister of Labour.