EYEWITNESS: Starting over… in sugar

0

Sugar’s been quite in the news lately. The management of GuySuCo announced that the 2021 crop had begun – with Albion kicking things off this week. As usual, targets were announced, and this time they were quite modest – 98,000 tones for Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt, which are presently operational.

Back in the days of the Sahib, these estates used to produce more than 125,000 tonnes. And with Uitvlugt’s cane merged with Wales’, one had hoped that could be matched. But, at least from the workers’ perspective, modest targets are welcome, since workers earn year-end bonuses based on achieving those targets.

And management looks good! Of recent, the main excuse proffered for not reaching targets has been “the rains”, which have extended way into the traditional harvesting periods. So, we hope the planners aren’t depending on a wing and a prayer for better weather in 2021, to allow longer harvesting periods.

But even the sub-projections have been modest, and this is a bit inexplicable. For instance, from the Albion manager’s figures, the expected tonnes of cane per acre were a measly 27, when they should be more like 33tpa. What gives? Something wrong with the cane in the fields? Are the mechanical harvesters damaging the plants, so that the cane density isn’t as heavy as of yore?

Then the tonnes of cane needed to produce one tonne of sugar was projected at 12.5. What happened to the standard 10 tc/ts? Where’s all that extra sugar going, into the molasses? Or are the canes brought into the factory bereft of the sucrose content? Enquiring minds want to know!

And we turn to some other recent commentators, one being the now ex-PRO of GuySuCo, who announced that not only does she have ideas for improving GuySuCo, but, indeed, the entire country! She’ll be running for the Presidency – presumably along with the nine other parties that threw their hats into the ring in 2020. Well, good for her! Shows that we can boast (along with America) that, in Guyana, anyone can expect to become President!! She asked one good question, though: what happened to the promised production of 50,000 tonnes of “plantation white” that would add value to our sugar??

Our former President Donald Ramotar, who sat on the GuySuCo Board for ‘donkey’ years and presumably knows a thing or two about sugar – like the former PRO – also weighed in. Apart from making some technical suggestions and proposing sugar workers be transitioned into co-op-owned sugar farmers, he broached the sensitive area (arena?) of management capabilities.

Here, your Eyewitness says that’s something that can’t be hidden. The proof of the capability will be in the tonnage of sugar produced come December!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

…with the Suriname crossing

Now, after three persons unfortunately perished by using the “backtrack” route to get back from Suriname, comes the announcement that the official route has been reinstituted. Not with the proper ferry, the MV Canawaima that had been donated by the EU, but that old pontoon the MB Sandaka, from which you’re always in deathly fear of your vehicle slipping into the Corentyne!

But keep hope alive. We’ve been promised that the long-heralded bridge across the Corentyne will soon be nigh upon us. You don’t remember Bouterse’s promise? There have been concerns raised about the viability of the project; that is: whether there would be enough revenue generated to service the debt that would be accrued. Why should we worry about that? If the Brazilians built the Bridge across the Takutu at their expense, why shouldn’t the Surinamese build the bridge across the Corentyne when they actually OWN the entire Corentyne River?

Then, again, we hope that folks don’t think the bridge is only for today’s traffic.

It’ll connect two PETRO-STATES!!

…to regulate vending in GT

Going all the way back to the sixties, with Mayor Archie “Bruk ‘em up” Codrington, there’ve been attempts to regulate vending. We wish the incumbent well with his efforts.

But not to hold his breath!