‘Pivotal’ GuySuCo second crop begins one month after planned start

-Chand optimistic

The Guyana Sugar Corpora-tion (GuySuCo) is expected to harvest just over 1,000 tonnes of cane for the first week of its second crop which began this week.

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) Komal Chand told Stabroek News that good weather allowed for an early start although it is a month after GuySuCo and the Agriculture Ministry had originally planned to commence reaping of the second crop.

Komal Chand
Komal Chand

Harvesting began on Monday at the Albion Estate followed by Rose Hall on Thursday. Chand said that the week will finish with over 1,000 tonnes of cane being reaped because harvesters still had up to today to work and the weather has proven to be conducive. “Albion started Monday and then Rose Hall. The weather was good and they started sooner than previous years which normally started the second week in July,” the union leader said. “This isn’t as soon as GuySuCo had wanted to start, they wanted to start reaping in June because of the low numbers in the first crop,” he added.

Chand said that while worker turnout was phenomenal for the first crop and is expected to be good for this crop, the weather really dampened the situation and prevented an earlier start. Optimism is high and GuySuCo has a 5,800-strong workforce for the fields, he added.

The union leader said that if the weather remains good and if the workforce is strong, there is a possibility that the 2013 target could be reached. He, however, warned that stakeholders have to be prepared for the possibility that it also may not happen.

“June weather was so poor, nothing could be done…I know they had originally wanted to start early to make up for the first crop but the weather…and the cane weren’t ready so that wouldn’t have helped,” Chand commented. “We have had prolonged good weather right up to Christmas in other years so it can happen, it is still possible,” he added.

GuySuCo has the potential to make the 192,000 tonnes of sugar needed to satisfy the 240,000 tonne target for this year after the dismal 48,000 tonne first crop, but the corporation has to be prepared to work the entire season, he said. Chand told Stabroek News that the sugar industry could see a turnaround from now until December when the second crop would officially end. He noted that the fields have to be studied and the amount of cane actually in the fields has to be reaped and the canes’ sugar producing capabilities have to be ideal. Chand said that in the past, the amount of cane grown was not enough and the tonnage of sugar produced from the cane had not been ideal.

The union leader had previously told Stabroek News that the agronomy of the fields was yet another debilitating factor for successful sugar production and while GuySuCo had plans to begin the second crop earlier; the cane per hectare ration has fallen significantly over the years.

Chand had noted that the 2013 crop is going to be a defining year for the state-owned corporation. He noted that currently, sugar enjoys a global market price in the double digits; the United States Department of Agriculture reported that in June 2013 the price for raw sugar was US$16.79 per pound. Guyana however sells at a higher rate to the European Union as part of its 167,000 tonne export deal.

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