We cannot be influenced in our direction by the Brazilian sugar industry

Dear Editor

In E B John’s letter captioned ‘Letter was full of assumptions’ (SN, August 3) he alleges that Mike Singh’s letter ‘Why did GuySuCo not pursue the ethanol option?’ (SN, July 20) was remarkable for its disconnected reasoning, and admitted assumptions. And then forgetting that he is the HR director of GuySuCo, most disingenuously claims that since Mr Singh’s letter was riddled with assumptions then his response benefits from also making assumptions.

This masterpiece of illogic from a functioning executive director of GuySuCo defies comprehension.

One cannot use actions taken by the Brazilian sugar industry as being capable of influencing us on which direction we should follow. Brazil has the largest and most cost effective sugar cane industry in the world, with 92% mechanisation and 80 tonnes cane per hectare. We, on the other hand, are a bankrupt sugar producer with less than 5% mechanisation and less than 30 tonnes of cane per hectare.

The Brazilians have built a very versatile industry on these assets, especially their very low tonnes of cane to make a tonne of sugar, so when there is a rise in the price of sugar as happened earlier this year (20.72 cents/pound), they produced more sugar to cash in on that high price and not because, as Mr John wrongly says, because the price of ethanol has fallen. In fact they produced 10% less ethanol because the ethanol prices in Brazil had risen and were causing some concern!

But I maintain that this is no indication for us to follow, because our situation is much different, since even 20.72 cents a pound for sugar is very much below our cost of production. Brazil produces at traditionally between 12-13 cents a pound.

And if even the most senior executives in GuySuCo cannot understand it, then the reason for their inefficiency becomes clear and agrees with my claims that GuySuCo’s management leaves much to be desired.

The key to my contention and making the case for ethanol production in Guyana is not the yield of cane per acre, it is the low amount of cane the Brazilians take to make a tonne of sugar compared to our extremely high amount of cane to make a tonne of sugar, remembering that for ethanol production this high sucrose content does not actually affect the yield of ethanol per tonne of cane. It therefore puts us on a more equal footing, since theoretically we will both make the same amount of ethanol from our canes.

As far as this statement from Mr John is concerned, “Is it not fair to assume that the former Minister who is reported to have bought a rather expensive ethanol facility (at an undisclosed time) to be installed at Albion Estate, should be asked to account for its non-operation and non-production?” This masterpiece boggles my mind; does GuySuCo have such a plant or does it not have it? If they have it, what are they doing with it, and if they don’t have it and Mr Singh is misinformed, then say so. What are all of these shenanigans about?

I am not going to address the other distressingly impotent arguments in Mr John’s letter. But I point out that GuySuCo’s executives as they continue to advance these puerile arguments are showing us that they not capable of extricating themselves from the morass in which they have fixed themselves, and asking this same group of incompetent managers to diversify is ridiculous.

 

Yours faithfully,

Tony Vieira

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