Already into the ninth month of the year, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has registered total annual production of only 88,000 tonnes of sugar with six of the factories grinding as of yesterday.
Output for the year has been dismal and the performance for the year has underlined the dire state of the industry, with questions continuing to be raised as to what the government’s plan is.
With only 88,000 tonnes so far, sources say GuySuCo will be acutely aware of the approximately 167,000 tonnes of sugar needed for the European Union quota. There could have been a stockpile from the previous year but given the current state of production, meeting the full quota could still be a problem. In addition to the 167,000 tonnes, GuySuCo also needs sugar for the domestic market.
Sources say the sugar corporation will also be looking to avoid falling under the 129,000 tonnes registered in 1990, which triggered radical action to turn the industry around.
GuySuCo has not been providing official production figures but sources say that the weekly production was over 6,000 tonnes with the Skeldon Factory responsible for just over 1,400 tonnes as of yesterday morning.
Skeldon’s weekly target was 1,500 tonnes. When Stabroek News spoke with factory management yesterday this newspaper was told that as of yesterday morning the factory would have to make just 84 tonnes more to make its target.
Factory management told this newspaper that Skeldon has been doing fairly well and that by the end of the week the factory will have been grinding for 126 hours. Stabroek News was told that prior to the start of yesterday’s grinding the factory only had a little over 24 hours of factory loss time, with mechanical and electric issues attributing to a little over five hours.
The factory has seen an increase in the amount of cane crushed per hour with an average of 206 tonnes. However this is still a far cry from the 350 tonnes per hour capacity promised during the commissioning of the factory in 2008 and the 250 tonners per hour ratio which is more realistic. Previously the factory was grinding at around 185 tonnes per hour. The Skeldon factory has been beset by many serious production problems since 2008 and expensive remedial works were done this year and other problems still have to be addressed.
Stabroek News was made to understand that while the crushing ratio at Skeldon was greatly improved, the tonnes of cane/per tonne of sugar ratio (TC/TS) saw a drastic decline to 15 TC/TS. Last week’s average was a phenomenal 20 TC/TS. This sharp drop in TC/TS average was explained as a tailoring off process and this publication was told previously that this high number would eventually taper off. Skeldon is however doing well compared to the industry average which is at just under 13 TC/TS.
The US$200 million Skeldon factory is faring better after numerous delayed starts to the season. The original start date to commence grinding was set as August 5th with a preliminary start date prior to that. Skeldon finally began grinding on August 22. According to factory management, worker turnout has been well over 86 percent. Prior to the season beginning at Skeldon, workers were being shuttled to the Blairmont estate on a daily basis. Stabroek News had spoken to workers who were frustrated that their own estate was so severely debilitated due to the inclement weather and they were forced to work on another estate.
For the week, the La Bonne Intention estate, East Coast Demerara did struggle with a few strikes which did hamper work from being done. Transport operators did go on strike for a few days, but did resume their duties yesterday. Their major contention was in relation to payments. Uitvlugt did cease operations due to a lack of cane, but the other six estates were grinding as of yesterday.
GuySuCo’s first crop was well below its 71,000 tonnes target, ending at just 48,000 tonnes, leaving over 192,000 tonnes needed in the second crop to make the annual 240,000 tonne target. Thus far, the corporation has made around 40,000 tonnes for the second crop.