The reality is that sugar cane fields are being abandoned

Dear Editor,

Here are facts: Wales Sugar Estate is closed and hundreds of sugar workers are unemployed. Skeldon Sugar Estate has had its first crop operations suspended, no planting has occurred and no harvesting has taken place. Skeldon is essentially closed.

The Enmore Sugar Packaging Plant has suspended its operation. LBI cane cultivation has ended and no planting has taken place at Enmore. Enmore/LBI has closed. The ethanol plant at Albion has not been used since 2015. The Providence cane fields have been abandoned.

GuySuCo, no matter how much it denies the truth, is totally carrying out instructions from APNU+AFC to first significantly downsize and then close sugar. No amount of spin and PR to change the narrative will hide the truth. It is high time APNU+AFC/GuySuCo stop lying to the sugar workers and to the people of Guyana. President Granger this past week unwittingly conceded the truth when he announced in Regions 5 that Wales has been closed and Enmore/LBI, Rose Hall and Skeldon will likely cease operations. The Big Man has spoken – closure of the sugar industry is near. GuySuCo and APNU+AFC can scream re-engineering until they turn blue, but it does not change anything. Sugar workers and the people in West Demerara have no illusion – Wales Sugar Estate is closed.  It has been almost eighteen months since the Wales decision was made by APNU+AFC and since GuySuCo has been implementing the decision. Yet there is still no concrete plans for Wales and the people there. APNU+AFC has sporadically announced things like sharing land to small farmers, rearing tilapia, dairy farming and cultivating rice seed paddy.

More recently we were told that 200ha of rice were cultivated, but I stood in those fields two weeks ago and the only evidence is that about 200 acres are now being prepared for rice. Sugar is dead in Wales, not being re-engineered.

Has any senior person from GuySuCo and for that matter anyone from APNU+AFC been to Providence recently? I know of no one who has seen any GuySuCo senior officer at Providence for the longest time, not just in recent months. No planting has taken place at Providence since end of 2015 and all fields with productive cane have been harvested. Those cane fields are no longer productively occupied by GuySuCo. I know. I walked those fields on April 2, 2017.

We can spin closure and take away people’s jobs and call it re-engineering. But at the end of the day the reality is that sugar cane fields are being abandoned for grass, weeds and bushes to take over, factories are being closed and dismantled, workers are unemployed, small community markets die, small shops, businesses, seamstresses and others in the sugar belts are feeling the squeeze. These ugly truths do not become less vulgar even if we redefine downsizing and closure as re-engineering.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Leslie Ramsammy

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