The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) continues to benefit from the current favourable weather conditions, as the second crop exceeds 104,000 tonnes of sugar.
With seven weeks until the Christmas estimated cut off period GuySuCo will need to make 51,000 tonnes to meet the 155,000 second crop target.
Management and the Agriculture Ministry are still optimistic that GuySuCo will meet its second crop target even though that means the weekly averages have to exceed 7,000 tonnes.
Since the second crop began grinding the weekly averages have not exceeded 7,000 tonnes; averages range between 4,500 and 6,800 tonnes of sugar.
Industry insiders have told Stabroek News that GuySuCo needs to anticipate the best but should also be prepared that it might not make that second crop target.
This publication was told by a sugar expert that the most likely scenario is that the seven weeks will produce an additional 30,000 tonnes at the least. but probably not more than 45,000 tonnes.
Stabroek News was made to understand that factories at Blairmont, Wales and Uitvlugt ceased operations last week because of a lack of cane. Skeldon also had some down time as more cane was also required.
Skeldon’s production for the week was a mere 420 tonnes expanding the fear that the supposed state-of- the-art factory is barely puling its weight. When the factory was commissioned the intention was to have Skeldon responsible for one third of all sugar production; so far Skeldon has produced 14 per cent of the second crop and 13 per cent of the year-to-date figure of 152,000 tonnes.
The dearth of canes in the ground and the worker turnout have continuously been an issue for GuySuCo with both directly affecting the other. The state-owned corporation has had worker turnout rates of around 50 per cent for years.
This past week GuySuCo reported that worker turnout was at just under 50 per cent. It should be noted that given the exceptional weather, GuySuCo would have benefited from having a high worker turnout.
The worker turnout and cane shortages are not the only worrying trends.
GuySuCo had advertised in June that 800 hectares of land are available for private cane farming in Uitvlugt. When asked by Stabroek News on numerous occasions if shortage of cane was an actual problem, management denied this, but the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union has said that sugar yield has diminished over the years.
The National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees has told Stabroek News that factory workers have just as much of an investment in the amount of cane in the ground and the quality because of the industrial component in sugar production.
The plan was that on completion of the factory, Skeldon was to be semi-dependent on private cane farmers with a trend to becoming heavily dependent. However this has not been the case.
The state-owned estate is still responsible for well over 50 per cent of the cane that goes to the factory. Given the current instability of the industry and the lack of Skeldon’s ability to grind cane and maintain continuous operations, many private cane farmers are reluctant to invest.
GuySuCo’s advertisement about the availability of land comes at a time when the state owned corporation admitted to deficiency in its husbandry practices while citing that all available lands were in use to ensure that production targets were met.