… Agri Minister says no positive impact from subsidies on GuySuCo’s financial state
Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, has projected that capital investment of $12 billion will be required for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to meet production targets over the next three years, even as plans continue with the closure of several estates across the country.
During the budget debate, yesterday, Holder told the National Assembly that since taking office in 2015, Government has supported GuySuCo with an injection of $32 billion with a further investment of $6.3 billion allocated for 2018 and $2.3 billion in 2019.
“Despite the magnitude of subsidies there has been no positive impact on the financial state of GuySuCo. The economy simply cannot afford this,” Holder stated.
Plans aimed at reshaping the industry have started. Skeldon is to be divested while Rose Hall, Providence and Enmore are also to be divested. Wales is scheduled for diversification. Government has set up a Special Purpose Unit to handle the diversification of the estates.
As set out in a State Paper on the industry, three estates at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt are to continue with its canes and sugar operations. According to Minister Holder, Uitvlugt cane farmers will account for 50 percent of the canes supplied to the factory and every effort will be made to increase on this production.
With the improvements in productivity, cane yields are expected to rise from the current levels of 44 tonnes of cane per hectare to 78.43 tonnes of cane per hectare in 2018, which represents a 41% increase.
“The improvement in yields will see the three remaining estates attaining close to their productivity potential. Sugar production will rise from 115,447 tonnes sugar in 2018 to 145,245 tonnes in 2020, an increase of 26 percent,” Holder stated.
It must be noted that the White Paper tabled by the Coalition government had set a target of 174,000 tonnes annually from the three estates.
Holder noted that to further counteract the effects of the changes in the European Union sugar regime, the corporation is looking to produce plantation white sugar for selling into the local, regional and United States markets.
“With other CARICOM sugar producing countries also planning on producing plantation white sugar, the strategy is to displace the importation of refined sugar regionally,” Holder noted.
As part of the plans for sugar, Holder noted that a feasibility study on cogeneration at Albion and Uitvlugt funded by the European Union (EU) is indicating that cogeneration at both estates is a viable option with the excess power sold to the national grid.
He also pointed to another study funded by the EU for transitioning severed employees to becoming farmers is well advanced.
“The results of this study will be of benefit to those severed employees who have expressed willingness to transition into farming on lands leased to them by the Corporation,” Holder pointed out.
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