Close to 30,000 bags of sugar from Blairmont Estate earmarked for Caricom

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Blairmont Estate alone will account for 30,000 bags of sugar exported to the Caribbean Community, with the first shipment leaving this week, as the estate aims to become a profit centre for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).

According to a statement from the Blairmont estate, it is currently producing 29,000 bags of sugar packaged for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) market. The first shipment of 6000 bags leaves for Trinidad sometime this week.

“We are also packaging 5kg sugar for the Caricom markets and will commence packaging 1kg and 2kg sugar by the 20th of March when materials for those packaging sizes will be available. Bulk sugar has to be in our review mirror, the Estate is aiming to produce not more than 10% of its total sugar production as raw bulk sugar.”

“Finally, Blairmont Estate is engineering itself to become one of GuySuCo’s profit centres. The Corporation and its stakeholders will be investing heavily in Blairmont and these investments will see Blaimont Estate maximising its production of bag and package sugar,” they said in their statement.

Meanwhile, the sugar estate was also able to surpass its weekly target for the first time in over a year. In an interview with this publication, Blairmont Estate Manager Hutton Griffith spoke of how the estate was able to surpass its target.

According to him, capital injections from the 2020 budget was used to improve the estate’s operations and machinery. He also detailed the previous issues that hindered the estate and kept it from meeting its targets.

“There are a couple of things. One of the major inputs was the work done in the factory, in terms of repairs and with regards to our dams and cultivation. There’s an increase in the fleet of cane transport tractors, which has made a significant impact. In 2020 we had three to four cane transport tractors and now we have nine.”

“One of the big issues we had was that we did not have enough cane transport tractors to bring the cane to the factory. We also had issues with the dams, which was in a very poor state. We also had some amount of weather that affected us. But the main issues were with cane transport and the dam,” Griffith explained.

Now that these issues have been surmounted, he explained what last week’s production figures were and its significance to Blairmont. According to Griffith, Blairmont had set a weekly target of 1077 tonnes of sugar. However, the estate wound up producing 1143 tonnes of sugar. The last time the estate surpassed its target, according to the Manager, was November 15, 2019.

There is an offshoot of the increased production. According to Griffith, worker morale has lifted and so has attendance. He explained that last week’s attendance was 69 per cent, up from 63 per cent.

Back in 2016, the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government closed the Wales Estate, and the following year, shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates, putting over 7000 sugar workers on the breadline.

The downsizing of the sugar industry saw only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion Estates being in operation. The assets of the closed estates were put under the control of the Special Purpose Unit of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) for divestment.

Under the current People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, the corporation is eyeing the reopening of Enmore and Rose Hall Estates by 2022. It is expected that the Rose Hall factory will be the first to become operational, while the Skeldon factory will be returned to operation by 2023. The Wales factory will be divested.