Sugar first crop pushed back to February

Even as uncertainty continues to hover over the industry, the Guyana Sugar Corporation has pushed back the start of the first crop to February.

GuySuCo was aiming to get back into the fields by mid-January which is the customary start of the first crop.

Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim, told Stabroek News on Monday that the corporation will also have to deal with approximately 200,000 tonnes of cane still in the fields at Enmore and Skeldon.

He noted that this large amount of cane will significantly compromise 2014’s first and second crops because the canes would have matured significantly before being harvested which will result in a lower sugar yield. Bhim noted that while GuySuCo will have to contend with the rollover of 2013 cane to 2014, management has taken this into consideration while organising the projected 2014 sugar target.

The target will be finalised sometime by the end of January, Bhim stated. He said that moving forward into 2014, GuySuCo had to be better prepared for the first crop. He acknowledged that capital will continue to be a major issue, but said that the corporation has to “ensure the fertiliser is on time, weed control and chemical weed control had to be done in intervals and getting the cane to the factories in better time,” were priorities for the first crop.

Bhim told Stabroek News that “we also have to get our drainage in order. Those are some of the routine things that we will do…we will continue to do. These are continuous things that we are always doing.”

He said that GuySuCo’s Strategic Plan’s 2014 projection may be tweaked and that the current cane that had to be rolled over into this year would need to be factored into the new projection. The Strategic Plan 2013’s sugar figure was  set at 203,000 tonnes although by the time the plan was completed in July the first crop for 2013 had recorded a dismal 48,000 tonnes, the lowest ever first crop in the corporation’s history. The plan wasn’t released until September 2013 well into the second crop.

The Plan states that GuySuCo is expected to produce over 278,000 tonnes of sugar in 2014. The production for 2013 was 186,000 tonnes, the lowest output in 22 years and in the tenure of the PPP/C governance.  Analysts therefore say that 278,000 tonnes would be an optimistic figure for 2014.

For 2013, GuySuCo adjusted its target, lowering it by over 15%, settling on 203,000 tonnes compared to 240,000 tonnes.  It eventually only made 90% of the tonnage of the adjusted target.

Head of GAWU, Komal Chand spoke with Stabroek News on Monday and stated that GuySuCo had been hoping to continue the 2013 crop into January of 2014, but that idea was scrapped.

He said that going into 2014 GuySuCo had to be more accountable and that tangible infrastructural changes had to be in place for well over six months now to ensure that some of the issues facing the industry could be corrected for the 2014 crop. Chand stated that the corporation would have had to start putting in place mechanisms to ensure that key issues were kept in order. He stated that for 2013 the state of the fields and poor agronomic care were highlighted continuously and that GuySuCo should have put measures in place to ensure that the condition of the land was addressed and that rehabilitation was underway.

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