GuySuCo first crop at dismal 48,000 tonnes

With less than a week of harvesting left the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has no chance of getting near to its 77,000-tonne first crop target and is headed for a record low.

As at Friday GuySuCo had harvested 48,000 tonnes, the lowest first crop harvest in over 20 years. The lowest first crop reported was in 1990 with only 55,000 tonnes harvested.

Harvesting has already concluded at some estates.

After multiple revisions 2012’s first crop target was slated at 101,813 tonnes, but the actual production was 70,027 tonnes.

In 2011, GuySuCo extended the first crop season to June. The result of the 23-week long season was a harvest of 104,924 tonnes from a 138,793-tonne target. 2011’s performance was an improvement on 2010’s, which saw GuySuCo revise the 130,000 first crop target to 91,675. However, the state-owned sugar company was only able to harvest 81,864 tonnes.

The sugar industry is in a dire state and GuySuCo will end this year’s first crop harvest prematurely to allow for the second crop harvest to begin earlier.

The aim now is to ensure that the second crop allows for the deficit to be made up.

Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union’s (GAWU) President Komal Chand told Stabroek News, “They may not be able to overcome this deficit… They are hoping to start the second crop in June, if the weather allows, instead of July, but I can’t see that being enough to catch up.”

Chand said GuySuCo was now placing pressure on the second crop to make up the losses but said this was “far from reality. They had a poor yield, the yield they were expecting they were unable to realise. There isn’t enough cane in the fields.”

Chand said lowering the production targets was what needed to be done as the fact remained that the industry was not performing. In the last four years GuySuCo was unable to harvest over 76 per cent of production targets.

The GAWU president stated that for years the amount of cane planted was not enough and the yields are too low. He said the number of  “opportunity days” were few, the season was short and the industry was grossly disorganised.

President Donald Ramotar told Stabroek News in an invited comment on Friday, “obviously it is a bit disappointing” that GuySuCo would fail to meet its first crop target. “I think some of the problems are objective problems in the sense that GuySuCo, in order to survive in this environment now, has to restructure and reorganise itself and it is very clear that we cannot depend on GuySuCo [being] a very labour intensive organisation any longer….”

Repeated efforts by Stabroek News to gather official information from GuySuCo on production figures have failed.

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