3 grinding sugar estates partially refurbished, factories producing despite floods

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Amid the May-June devastating floods, the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s three grinding estates commenced production as the sugar company pushed to return the sector to its former “glory days”.

In order to drive this turnaround and better equip GuySuCo for the rainy season, Government had procured several hydraulic excavators to carry out critical drainage and irrigation works at the various estates and surrounding communities across the country. On Thursday, three of these excavators were commissioned at GuySuCo’s Head Office at LBI, East Coast Demerara (ECD), and handed over to the Albion/Port Mourant Estate.

According to GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sase Singh, the adverse weather that persisted for most of this year has severely affected the Corporation’s plans to revive the industry. Nevertheless, he noted that with the continuous support of the Government and Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, GuySuCo is poised to overcome these challenges.

“We have endured the great floods of 2021 and I can proudly announce that all three of the grinding estates have been partially refurbished in the out-of-crop period, and the workers are doing their very best to feed those factories. And we’ve been producing sugar in GuySuCo since July 17, 2021, starting at Blairmont despite the great floods. I’m also happy to announce that even after 65 days under way, Albion has been producing sugar for two weeks now,” the CEO revealed.

He noted that this would not have been possible without the efforts of GuySuCo workers at all levels who have been toiling to bring the sector back into viable operation. According to Singh, there are currently just over 7500 workers employed across GuySuCo’s eight main locations.

With some $10.5 billion injected into the sugar industry by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, the GuySuCo CEO said projected revenue this year is just over $10 billion. Already, the Sugar Corporation has been able to sell $734 million more than its sales target by just changing its sales mix. These revenues were used to pay off suppliers.

Singh went on to note too that they were looking at all areas to cut costs, including refurbishing “half-working” tractors, which will now be deployed to estates. In fact, after just one year in office, he said, they were able to shave some $175 million off of head office expenditure and this has put GuySuCo on target to shave another $300 million by the end of 2023.

The CEO pointed out that the aim was to inject funds into where revenue was being generated, that is, the grinding estates.

“The grinding estates is our focus and every estate that are grinding, we want to make sure that they are empowered to grind more… Let me make this statement clear, there shall be no shortage of sugar in this country in 2021, and all systems are being put in place to ensure that no shortage of sugar happens in this nation, and we shall all be moving towards a sweet Christmas,” the GuySuCo CEO asserted.

It was noted that the three excavators for the Albion Estate will be used to continue empoldering activities there, to help repair the damage to the farm-to-market roads at the estate, to rebuild revetments and enhance drainage capacity, as well as prepare for the next rainy season.

Minister Zulfikar said that these investments were a reflection of the PPP/C Government’s commitment to bring back GuySuCo to its “glory days”.

In total, Government has invested in 11 excavators for the sugar industry. Of the remaining eight, two will be sent to the Blairmont Estate and one each will go to the other estates across the country, including those that are undergoing a phased reopening after being closed by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration.

“…Over the last seven years, GuySuCo did not receive equipment like these… Prior to August last year, critical works were not done at GuySuCo and today, we are having these works being done. This is the way we are preparing GuySuCo for future and I am very optimistic that GuySuCo will once again play that leading role in our country as long as we are putting the critical investments and we have good leadership in GuySuCo,” the Agriculture Minister contended.