Berbice sugar estates to surpass crop targets for 1st time since 2018

GuySuCo Head Sasenarine Singh

The Berbice estates of the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) has surpassed 50 per cent of their 2022 1st crop sugar production target and are on course to surpass their crop targets for the first time since 2018.

This was revealed in a statement from GuySuCo, which revealed that these estates are at a halfway point in the crop. It was explained that as of March 31, 2022, the Berbice Sugar Estate produced 54 per cent of its aggregate sugar targets.

In the case of Albion and Blairmont, these estates have produced 5407 and 4447 metric tonnes (MT), respectively. Meanwhile, Uitvlugt Estate, which is currently out of grinding operations for over four weeks as a result of a mechanical failure, made 66 MT in the limited grinding time.

According to GuySuCo’s acting Factory Operations Director Vijay Gobardhan, sugar production is severely being affected at Uitvlugt Estate. This situation, he alluded, is a result of the failure of the #1 Mill Turbine’s Reduction Gear Box; a piece of machinery that is essential to the factory’s grinding operations.

Gobardhan further stated that repair works on the damaged gearbox are ongoing. Fabrication was completed on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and the machining aspects of the repairs are currently in progress.

It is anticipated that the testing phase of the repaired gearbox will commence by Friday, April 8, 2022. The Corporation also said it continues to foster close collaboration with all stakeholders inclusive of the Trade Unions to ensure all are fully informed on what is happening in the industry, especially at Uitvlugt.

The vision is to recommence grinding operations at Uitvlugt Estate by Saturday, April 9, 2022. In the statement, GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sasenarine Singh described the situation at Uitvlugt as a bitter shame, noting that the unforeseen occurrences at Uitvlugt, “hath spoiled” the sweet moment of the performance on the Berbice estates.

Nevertheless, it was noted that these estates are well on schedule to surpass their respective crop targets for the first time since the 2nd crop of 2018.

Back in March, Albion/Port Mourant Estate in Berbice had claimed the distinction of being the first sugar estate for the year to surpass its weekly target, an event that is renewing hope and resulting in a bigger payday for workers.

According to a release from GuySuCo, the Albion/Port Mourant Estate had surpassed its sugar production target for the week ending March 19, 2022, by 7.9 per cent.

“This was the first weekly target surpassed for the year 2022 in the sugar sector. As a result of this achievement, qualified employees (who worked 80 per cent or more days available for the week) of Albion/Port Mourant Estate will benefit from an additional day’s pay (tax-free),” GuySuCo had said.

Further, the sugar company stated that the target was surpassed even in the face of challenges posed by the intermittent rainfalls. In fact, almost 30 millimetres of rain fell during the week under question.

This resulted in the estate’s mechanical harvesting being stalled. Despite this, the estate was able to leverage the attendance of the harvesters and increased human productivity.

Last year, GuySuCo had reported that 4300 hectares of sugar cane were destroyed for 2021 due to flooding. This is land equivalent to over 52,000 house lots. GuySuCo was only able to rehabilitate 38 per cent of those damaged canes.

Albion Estate, which was expected to contribute 50 per cent of sugar cane cultivation, had a mortality rate of 80 per cent due to the floods. This was cane that would have otherwise been harvested in the first crop of 2022. Berbice estates as a whole had 72 per cent more rainfall than 2020.

So unprecedented is the flooding that GuySuCo experienced earlier in the year that “the Corporation drained some 4.5 million tonnes of water off the land daily during the 65 days’ flood, which is enough water to fill 2000 Olympic-sized swimming pools”.