As the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) looks to expand the cultivation at the Uitvlugt Estate, over 4,200 hectares have been made available to be leased to private cane farmers and over half is already being used.
In a recent advertisement, GuySuCo said that lands were available around the Uitvlugt Estate for any private cane farmers interested in planting, to assist with meeting the estate’s quota.
GuySuCo spokeswoman Audreyanna Thomas subsequently told this newspaper that over 4,200 hectares were made available for private cane farmers willing to lease them to grow sugar cane.
“One of the things we want to do is to bring more cane farmers on board and this is part of that and our Uitvlugt Improvement Programme,” Thomas said.
She indicated that out of the 4,200 hectares made available for lease, 2,800 hectares have been occupied by some 77 cane farmers already.
“Some of the farmers who were at Wales went over to Uitvlugt and we started to give some new ones last year and in 2016 we started to give some new farmers,” Thomas said.
She noted that they are expecting to produce 5,900 tonnes of sugar per year from the lands that are currently being leased, which would help to meet the estate’s production target of 17,400 tonnes this year.
Thomas added that while at one point there was a lot of interest, it has since waned but the company is still receiving applications and calls regularly.
Asked how much land can be allocated to a single farmer, she noted that the applicants must show that they have the financial wherewithal to meet the commitment.
“Let’s say that I applied for 2,000 hectares of land. If I am going to be approved to be able lease that amount of land, then I have to show that I can support the operations of 2,000 hectares of land growing sugar cane,” Thomas said.
She also indicated that the turnout at Uitvlugt has not been ideal and while they recorded over 50% attendance at the beginning of the crop, it has increased to 60%. This, she said, still needs to improve as they want to see a consistent attendance of 80% or more.
She said that they are also still encouraging the workers from Wales who would’ve opted to not work at Uitvlugt to reconsider their option and come to the estate to help it reach its target.
“We are also encouraging the residents and private sector in Region Three to encourage the labour force and encourage persons to show an interest,” she said, while adding that in order for GuySuCo to sustain all the estates that they were able to keep open there is a need for the turnout to improve.