GuySuCo to extend first crop

-after devastating rains

Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corpora-tion (GuySuCo) Paul Bhim says the industry will not revise its first crop target after close to three weeks of down time due to the weather, but the crop would be extended to May.

The industry’s operations are back up with all the estates grinding as of yesterday, after a few resumed operations last Saturday. Bhim said the corporation has invested heavily in drainage and irrigation, while observing that the weather has had a devastating impact on this crop.

GuySuCo’s production is currently at 47,000 tonnes and Bhim is optimistic the target for this crop could be met and that production in general will improve. The first crop target is just over 138,000 tonnes, with the target for this year set at 305,000 tonnes.

Estates across the industry were under water for some two weeks and according to Bhim, the corporation has not been able to quantify its losses. He said too that some of the younger canes will likely be lost.

He added that the Skeldon cultivation has been most affected and canes will be carried over from this first crop into the second from the estate.

Bhim stressed that cane is not the issue. “We have the canes to produce the numbers but what we have to look at is the weather… the crop first was scheduled to end in April but it is now looking like May,” he added.

With the first crop pushed back to May, the second crop is likely to start much earlier if the industry is going to meet its production target. Bhim noted that the second crop was scheduled to start in July, but it could start some time in June.

“We have many lost days already,” he said.

The focus is on moving full speed ahead while the weather is good, Bhim continued, while saying the weather is more likely to affect production next year. He explained that GuySuCo has been unable to do work on its tillage operations and planting for close to a month and it is based on this work that the industry would be able to reap canes in 2012.

It was the second time this year that the weather set back the industry.

However, the recent weather forced a halt to operations for more than two weeks.

Bhim had observed just over a week ago that the industry was not at risk of losing income “at this time” but two weeks of lost days are equivalent to 20,000 tonnes of sugar, which is approximately $2 billion. “Things [were] looking good up until two weeks ago, now we have to wait for grinding to restart and also re-build the momentum,” Bhim had said then, while adding that the corporation was enjoying significant support from workers since the crop started.

Last year, the industry ended the year with a dismal 220,000 tonnes of sugar.