The Guyana Sugar Corporation is on its way to surpassing last year’s first crop figure, halfway through the season.
According to company sources, GuySuCo’s production so far is over 44,000 tonnes. The first crop total for 2013 was 48,000 tonnes. That figure was the lowest ever in the industry for a first crop. Stabroek News was made to understand that GuySuCo is hoping for continued good weather which has played a major role in the improved harvesting thus far.
In February, Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy confirmed that GuySuCo’s 2014 sugar target would be over 50,000 tonnes less than the projection in the five-year Strategic Plan that was unveiled in July of last year. He stated that instead of a 278,752-tonne target, GuySuCo would commence the year with a 216,000-tonne production target.
Ramsammy did also state that the target could be revised depending on the first crop production. Last year’s total production for the two crops was 186,000, the lowest figure in 23 years. GuySuCo’s first crop target for 2014 has been set at 75,000 tonnes. With less than 31,000 tonnes to go before the mid-May cut-off, the state corporation is optimistic.
Still problematic for GuySuCo is the Skeldon factory which has produced a little over 6,200 tonnes for the year. According to the 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, Skeldon’s production was to be 57,915 tonnes or 20 percent of the annual sugar production. Since the 2014 target revision however, it is unclear exactly how much sugar Skeldon, as an individual estate, will be responsible for. Skeldon’s state-of-the-art factory had been originally rated to produce 110,000 tonnes of cane per annum.
According to the 2013-17 plan, by 2017 Skeldon is to be producing 81,165 tonnes of sugar. However, the performance for 2012/2013 averaged just over 33,000 tonnes. Stabroek News had previously requested production figures from GuySuCo on a monthly basis but the corporation had not provided this.
The Skeldon factory was initially intended to have a grinding capacity of 350 tonnes of cane per hour. It was revealed last year that the Chinese-built factory may now only have a 250-tonnes grinding capacity per hour. Currently Skeldon grinds at 185 tonnes of cane per hour.
GuySuCo’s production amount for the first crop has demonstrated that even though the state-owned corporation is heavily invested in mechanisation it has been overwhelmingly dependent on manual labour for this crop.
The corporation has been utilising sometimes under 50 percent of the required workers because of the declining labour within the industry. Earlier in the week Stabroek News was told that less than 45 percent of workers have been cutting in the fields but the good weather has enabled more cane to be cut.
Meanwhile, during the PPP/C press briefing on Monday, Clement Rohee, the General Secretary, stated that there was not a mass migration of sugar workers to other sectors. Stabroek News had asked the question in relation to reports of sugar workers moving to mining and other sectors. Rohee replied that to his knowledge it was not on a large scale especially in relation to mining.
He did note that sugar workers were moving into carpentry and some were even migrating to other parts of the Caribbean to work as labourers because the pay was significantly better.