Sugar first crop near 80,000 tonnes

...Skeldon grinding paltry amounts

The preliminary first crop figure for sugar is just shy of 80,000 tonnes however GuySuCo is still pushing the beleaguered Skeldon factory to make its individual 13,795-tonne target before finally closing the crop.

According to an insider, the Skeldon factory produced a measly seven tonnes of sugar on Wednesday May 28. Placing that into perspective, the world market price for sugar at the end of last week was US$383.16 per tonne, GuySuCo would have produced only US$2682 for the day with high overhead costs. When first conceptualized, the Skeldon factory was intended to produce 110,000 tonnes per annum.

Observers say that allowing the Skeldon factory to run for an entire day to produce just over half a million dollars, calls into question the wisdom of management’s decisions.

This newspaper was made to understand by Skeldon employees that GuySuCo is determined to meet the first-year target for the factory even though the amount being spent to operate the factory is far more than what is being earned. Stabroek News was told that last week not only did GuySuCo produce seven tonnes on a single day, but the rest of the week it did not fare better.

As the first crop enters the month of June, Skeldon is the only factory still grinding with all other factories having closed off for the season.

GuySuCo surpassed the 2014 first crop target at the beginning of May, the target was set low at just under 75,000 tonnes. This figure was historically low as the first crop production targets used to be set anywhere from 85,000 to 110,000 tonnes.

The Skeldon factory’s production is in need of upping with critics calling for GuySuCo to start taking responsibility and act accountably. But year after year the calls by critics and the political opposition have fallen on deaf ears.

Previously, President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Komal Chand told Stabroek News that GuySuCo should be preparing to present the figures after the first crop total has been finalized. Chand noted that production costs have been lowered over the years, but Skeldon is a far cry from a break-even reality.

Last year the Skeldon factory was rehabilitated by a South African company, with work continuing into this year.

With GuySuCo’s less than stellar performance in the last few years, the 2013 production was only 186,000 tonnes, a 22-year-low. The first crop figure of 48,000 tonnes was the lowest ever first crop figure.

APNU’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture Dr Rupert Roopnaraine has told Stabroek News that since Parliament reconvened he would be reminding Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy of his commitment to have quarterly reports handed over to the National Assembly to keep stakeholders informed on the corporation’s financials. Six months into 2014 not a single report has been provided.

Roopnaraine stated that Skeldon’s fiscal breakdown was a necessary part in understanding how well the industry was doing as a whole.





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