More than one-third of the sugar cane harvested by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), between 2005 (when Guyana experienced a devastating flood) and 2009 were deemed to be uneconomical.
“We had established that because of the conditions which we have experienced since 2005 to the first few months of 2009, that between 35 and 37 per cent of our industry’s cultivation was uneconomical; meaning that the yields for over 37 per cent of our cultivation cost us more to harvest than the revenue we got from the sugar which we gleaned from those lands.”
This damning revelation was made to the Standing Parliamentary Economic Services Committee, by GuySuCo’s then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Errol Hanoman when he appeared before the Committee on February 4, 2010.
The Committee was at the time chaired by Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and included the late Winston Murray and Alliance for Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan, Komal Chand and Dave Danny among others.
“So there was obviously a need for a major rehabilitation of this cultivation…We are working to produce over 400,000 tonnes by 2013…We have a significant amount of work ahead of us,” was the admission by Hanoman, clearly illustrating the dire situation that the industry had found itself in.
GuySuCo, to date, has fallen short on each projection made for cultivation but there has also been no more public pronouncement on the percentage of yield that is considered to be economical as against the quota that had been reaped in the troubled years and referred to by Hanoman.
In terms of reversing the trend that the company had experienced Hanoman told the Parliamentary Committee that “we have embarked on an accelerated rehabilitation programme which got under way around June-July of last year (2009).”
He told the committee that GuySuCo had recognized that one of the first things, “the core of our strategy, has to be to rehabilitate the lands; you have to get more canes if you are going to get more sugar…Everything else takes second place.”
In doing this Hanoman said that the Corporation would have embarked on “this accelerated rehabilitation, and essentially we were going to use a combination of our own fleet and bring in contractors who have equipment.”
He said at the time, one of the difficulties experienced “was, while we had brought in over 14 contractors, the majority of them did not have the heavy tractors that were required… notwithstanding we used whatever equipment they had to help us with our work.”
Hanoman also reported that at the end of 2009, because of the inclement weather in the first half (of the year), “we did not achieve our land rehabilitation programme…We did achieve our programme for the second crop of the year.”
Hanoman said, “When you look at the target in the Blueprint, in the second crop, we had exceeded the replanting programme by 184 hectares. We are expecting this momentum to develop this year (2010).”
Two years later and almost halfway through the year, GuySuCo is again counting its losses as its sugar estates are presently suffering from low yields and minimal sugar production across the country.
While GuySuCo and the Ministry of Agriculture were both optimistic at the start of 2012 that the industry would be able to meet this year’s production target of between 250,000 and 265,000 tonnes, the heavy rainfall has badly affected the first crop.
The inclement weather pattern, coupled with the Industrial Action (strikes) experienced during the first half of 2012, resulted in a major impact on the estates’ performances.
The sugar industry recorded a production of 67,299 tonnes, which was the lowest figure in first crop production in over 20 years.
Kaieteur News understands that as at the week ending May 6, 2012, the sugar industry recorded a production of 67,299 tonnes.
Last year, the country saw production of 106,627 tonnes at the end of that first crop and this year the industry barely managed to scrape 63 per cent of that total.
The Rose Hall factory in Berbice produced 79 tonnes of sugar as at the week ending May 6, 2012, and the Blairmont factory, also in the Ancient County, recorded a production of 139 tonnes.
Meanwhile, the Enmore sugar factory located on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) saw a poor yield of 156 tonnes for that period.
For the Skeldon Sugar Estate, Corentyne, Berbice, which had a history of being the best yielding estate of cane and sugar per acre in previous years, the workers only managed to produce 6,596 tonnes at the week ending May 6, 2012, in comparison with the 6,944 tonnes produced at the Uitvlugt Sugar Estate, West Coast Demerara.
The factory at Skeldon has produced the lowest amount of sugar in the 2012 first crop than any other factory in the entire industry.
In 2011, the first crop at Albion, Berbice, produced 28,504 tonnes of sugar; in 2012 it only produced 16,135 tonnes up to the week ending May 6.
Rose Hall, which had produced 15,430 tonnes last year, could only produce 10,640 tonnes for their first crop for this year while Blairmont produced 10,122 tonnes as at May 6, 2012 which was a much lower figure than the 2011 achievement of 17,611 tonnes for the same period.
It was noted that at the end of the first crop in 2011, the factory at La Bonne Intention (LBI), was closed off and the cane from there is presently being grinded at the Enmore factory.
However, in 2011 the Enmore/LBI combination produced 13,452 tonnes of sugar. This year they only achieved 8,246 tonnes.
For Wales, West Bank Demerara, for the first crop in 2011 the factory produced 10,752 tonnes but this year it only produced 8,615 tonnes of sugar, while the Uitvlugt factory generated 6,999 tonnes in comparison with last year’s 10,442 tonnes.
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