Sugar production is likely to barely scrape 150,000 tonnes, one of the worst performances in years.
This is according to current production figures which are also suggesting a deeply worrying trend for the industry- poor workers’ turnout.
The figures would be a troubling one as already for this year, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) which operates six factories in Berbice and Demerara, has revised downwards its production target.
Last year, it was around 187,000 tonnes. It was estimated to be 13,000 tonnes less this year.
However, the current figures would paint a dark year for GuySuCo, which recently received a $2B bailout in a housing lands deal.
At the new Skeldon, Corentyne estate, which did not grind for the first crop because of unsafe boiler conditions and emergency repairs, the target for the crop was 30,097 tonnes.
According to recent figures, Skeldon barely managed 2,437 tonnes. The turnout by cane workers – over 700- represent about 55 percent.
Albion’s target was 32,521 tonnes with 13,959 tonnes produced so far. The workers’ turnout was said to be 66%.
For Rose Hall only 8,526 tonnes have been produced from the crop target of 19,652 tonnes budgeted for. The workers’ turnout was slightly better at 70%.
At the Blairmont estate, West Berbice, 19,320 tonnes were targetted- the actual production is just over 12,000 with 65 percent workers’ turnout.
Officials disclosed the industry average for the second crop as far as workers’ turnout is concerned is about 60 percent.
The figures would spell a dismal picture for defenders of the industry who are calling for Government not to close it down, following the path of several other countries in the region, which have exited sugar.
This year, more than $10B was plugged into the industry to prop it from falling.
Recently, GuySuCo asked for a $2B bailout after it ran out of cash to pay workers. Government agreed to advance the cash in return for housing lands.
The David Granger administration has held a Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry with a white paper tabled in the National Assembly earlier this year.
Last December, the century-old Wales factory, West Bank Demerara, shut its gates for the final time.
The white paper has recommended closures to Rose Hall and Enmore.
Yesterday, Gobin Harbhajan, Region Six representative to Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, said that the industry’s performance is a deeply worrying one with the situation not being helped by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)
“My point is that there is a shortage of cane harvesters throughout the country. And GAWU and PPP (People’s Progressive Party) are running around putting up huge posters saying the Government is taking away people’s bread and work.”
Harbhajan, said that as the PM’s representative, a former Board member of the Skeldon Electricity Inc. and a regional councilor, he is fully aware of the situation.
“These are things that the PPP and the unions are fully aware of. Yet they lie to the people of Berbice about turnouts and so on. On one hand you talk about workers’ well-being. On the other hand, you are not helping to increase production. The businesses are being fooled by the unions and the people too. Let them explain why workers are not coming to work.”
Aging factories, poor agriculture, theft, inefficiency, poor political decisions and corruption have all been blamed on the state of the sugar industry.
The administration has signaled a strong stance in halting the bleeding. The industry is said to have 17,000 workers, but many of them have drifted to other more lucrative, stable jobs.
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