Why did we install an 80,000 tonne packaging plant in a factory which produces only 19,598 tonnes of sugar a year?

Dear Editor,

Reference an article in the Stabroek News of August 25 captioned ‘Inadequate, pricey and not in demand, low sugar supply slows Enmore packaging plant.’ I had in a previous letter to the editor made the observation that the misguided policy of GuySuCo spending large sums of money on special packaged sugars at Enmore and Blairmont was ill-conceived and probably unworkable. This is being displayed in all of its glory in the report I have referred to, since, as it says, “Low sugar production and the lack of markets for packaged sugar have seen the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) Enmore packaging plant functioning at a low level. The US$12.5 million sugar packaging facility’s potential is tied to the sugar production of the Enmore estate but over the years, that has been low and the plant has not reached its full capacity. The plant, which was made possible due to assistance from the European Union, was originally intended to package up to 80,000 tonnes of sugar annually.”

The newspaper is right to question this stupidity; why did we install an 80,000 tonne packaging plant in a factory which produces a total of only 19,598 tonnes of sugar per year? This is a question which only the heads at GuySuCo can answer. My dear departed Mother used to say, “Where ignorance is bliss it’s folly to be wise.”

It is however not why I am writing this letter; in the same Stabroek News article we see that the second crop of GuySuCo has produced just a little over 16,000 tonnes to date!

On a normal week GuySuCo can produce 10,000 tonnes; the second crop started on July 18, 2014 and it’s now August 25, 2014, therefore the estates have been grinding for 4.3 weeks. If the corporation was on its normal 10,000 tonne per week potential production for the second crop the production should have been closer to 43,333 tonnes. So the current production rate is only around 40% of its potential total weekly target.

They are going to say rainfall is causing it, but actually even though in the current poor drainage system of Georgetown the city continues to flood, this has not been a heavy rainfall August for Guyana; it’s been a moderate August rainfall month. In this situation when the corporation is already in such a sad financial position, producing at only 40% of the potential weekly production is not acceptable and must be costing us a lot in cost per tonne.

These are not the kind of facts which would make us comfortable that GuySuCo is turning anything except belly up. It is certainly not turning around.

In a related matter I see that the rice farmers are forming a committee to approach the Venezuelan government for access to the Guyana quota of rice and paddy. Unfortunately the PetroCaribe deal is a government to government deal and this initiative by these enterprising farmers may not go very far, but they are on the right track, they are forming themselves into what can be seen as an independent Rice Producers Association (they clearly don’t have any confidence in the one that is existing now, which is a political creature). I want to tell them that this is a good thing, since in numbers there is strength; the cane farmers should do the same thing.

And if there is any way for me to help them, I will try.

Yours faithfully,
Tony Vieira

 



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