-but Chand says figure still too low

The Guyana Sugar Corporation has surpassed its first crop target with just under 75,000 tonnes of sugar produced as of yesterday.

The official first crop figure was set at 74,616 tonnes.

Stabroek News understands that three estates are still grinding: Skeldon, Enmore and La Bonne Intention and will most likely continue for an additional two weeks.

Head of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand told Stabroek News yesterday that while GuySuCo’s figures are promising and the current production is well over 2013’s record low of 48,000 tonnes in the first crop, the figures are still unsatisfactory. He recalled that in more prosperous years GuySuCo would be producing anywhere from 85,000 to 110,000 tonnes in the first crop.

Chand said that the state-owned corporation has been very lucky to have good weather which has allowed for more opportunity days. This same point was made by Tony Vieira in a letter in yesterday’s Stabroek News. Chand said that there was still room to be optimistic and that if this was a sign that GuySuCo was in the beginning stages of a recovery then it was positive.

Komal Chand
Komal Chand

He did caution in the same breath that GuySuCo still had a lot to be concerned with and that the figures were at the same level of the previous `good years’ so more work had to be done and the recurring problems need to be addressed.

Chand confirmed that Skeldon’s production to date was just under 11,000 tonnes. The beleaguered factory does have an additional two weeks to make its first crop target of 14,000 tonnes with GuySuCo management hoping for more good weather to ensure this happens. Last year Skeldon’s first crop figure was approximately 6,000 tonnes. Critics have noted that with huge sums invested in remedial work, the factory has not shown enhanced production.

GuySuCo had hired the South African firm, Bosch Engineering to undertake rehabilitation on the troubled Chinese-built factory including on the condensate tank, bagasse scratcher and pipe support, one of the conveyor belts, the installation of a super heater and upgrading of the heavy duty knives used to crush cane. GuySuCo is adamant that work by the South African firm to repair the beleaguered Skeldon factory cost US$1.8M and not US$30 million as was reported by Stabroek News in its March 9, 2014 edition and originally on August 18, 2013.

Stabroek News understands that last year Skeldon was responsible for just over 25,000 tonnes of the annual sugar production, the total production was the lowest in 22 years with just over 186,000 tonnes produced for 2013.

When its contract was sealed, the Skeldon factory was rated to produce 110,000 tonnes of sugar per annum. It is nowhere near this.

Chand stated that “this year’s target was low compared to the 85,000 to 110,000 tonnes they should be between. Annually they shouldn’t be less than 300,000 tonnes…even though this is good (and) they’ve done better than last year these were low targets.”

Vieira in the letter to Stabroek News rebuffed any notion of a sugar recovery, pointing to the unusually good weather during the period from the end of April to the beginning of May that has allowed GuySuCo far more opportunity days than it is used to nearing the end of the first crop.

Vieira stated that average rainfall during the month of April is around 153.4mm while in 2014 there has been only 55.9 mm of rainfall.


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