The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will be working closely with the communities surrounding the Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates to ensure a better performance for the second crop, Corporate Communications Manager Audreyanna Thomas says.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) revealed to Stabroek News last month that GuySuCo only produced 34,450 tonnes of sugar for its 2018 first crop, out of a low production target of 36,105 tonnes.
According to figures provided by GAWU, the three functioning estates – Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt – fell short of their target by 1,655 tonnes. While the Albion and Blairmont estates did not achieve their targets, the Uitvlugt Estate surpassed its goal.
According to the data, the Albion estate’s target for the first crop was set at 19,698 tonnes of sugar but it was only able produce 18,232 tonnes of sugar, despite working one week over its schedule. The Blairmont estate’s target was set at 9,736 tonnes of sugar but it was only able to produce 9,121 tonnes of sugar, despite working three weeks beyond its schedule.
Thomas explained on Monday that the attendance percentage for the three estates averaged around 57%, which contributed to the underperformance of the first crop target. However, she noted that the their relationship with GAWU has improved as they have recorded significantly less strikes for the first crop of this year, last year and 2016.
Thomas pointed out that for the first crop for this year there were only 13 strikes, which resulted in 2,964 man-days being lost, as compared to the first crop last year where there were 17 strikes that resulted in 5,274 man-days being lost, and 2016 where there were 29 strikes that resulted in 7,265 man-days being lost.
Thomas noted the sugar company is currently doing maintenance to ensure that the factories are functional and prepared for the second crop to make up for the shortfall from the first crop target.
“(This) month, we are doing a range of things and one of them is having our community outreach in the various communities around the three estates. We hope to do this with representatives from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the chambers of commerce and the private sector because the estates are probably the largest businesses in their respective regions,” Thomas said, while adding that they will follow the theme “Moving Towards a Resilient and Sustainable Business.”
She said that they will focus their discussions around their strategic plans for 2018 through to 2021 and will be discussing strengthening their partnership with the region and the private sector and their second crop targets.
“We will discuss the second crop and how to improve the attendance and how they can help us with the management of these estates. We are trying to shift the thinking from them being Estates to Business Production Centres,” Thomas noted.
She also pointed out that they have not identified their second crop target as yet since they are in the process of auditing their figures but she was confident that they will be able to make up for the losses in the second crop.
With the shortfall in the first crop target, there has been concern over whether GuySuCo will be able to meet their local consumption and export demands.
In a white paper published last year, government proposed that sugar production should be contracted to approximately 147,000 tonnes of sugar annually produced from Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates to satisfy the demand in the local markets (25,000 tonnes pa), CARICOM and regional (50,000 – 60,000 tonnes pa) USA (12,500 tonnes pa) and the World Market (50,000) tonnes.
Last year, GuySuCo fell short of the projected figure for its first crop by some 24,566 tonnes.
The Corporation had set a target of 74,172 tonnes of sugar but was only able to produce 49,606 tonnes.
In 2016, GuySuCo also fell short of its first crop target after it was only able to produce 56,825 tonnes of sugar from a projected figure of 80,270 tonnes, a difference of 23,445 tonnes. GuySuCo had said in a release that the shortfall in 2016 was due substantially to the El Nino weather conditions, which severely dried out the canes, drastically constrained cane growth and led to lower sugar content.