The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has decided to make lands available to workers of the Wales Sugar Estate for them to become self-sufficient in farming practices.
Earlier in the month proposals were made by the government through the Wales Estate’s Manager, Devendra Kumar to the workers. The lands offered to workers are intended to transform them from a state of depending on sugar to becoming self-sufficient.
“The kind of projects that we have earmarked for that just to remind you, is in the area of rice cultivation, possibly aquaculture, the establishment of orchards and dairy farming. As far as that goes, where we are talking about dairy farming and orchards, we’re looking at the possibility of setting up juice processing facilities and pasteurisation facilities here at Wales Estate to process the juices, as well as the dairy products,” the estate manager explained.
In early 2016, news broke of the Government’s intention to close the Wales Factory. Shortly afterwards, Government confirmed the end of sugar operations at Wales Estate, citing cost as the main factor for closure. It was later disclosed that rice will be planted as part of the diversification plan.
Many of the workers were dissatisfied with the manner in which the Government, particularly the Agriculture Ministry approached the issue. Workers and union leaders accused the government of being uncaring about their concerns pointing to the extreme hardships that would be placed on the entire community.
The sugar workers claimed that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was “forcing” them to transfer their service to Uitvlugt Estate on the West Coast of Demerara, on the grounds that they will maintain them on the Wales payroll.
The workers however demanded that they be paid severance on the basis that they cannot be compelled to travel 22 miles from their point of origin.
Over the past few weeks, hundreds of workers attached to the estate have taken to the streets to register their frustration against GuySuCo’s non-payment of severance, but the company is maintaining that workers who opted for severance were already paid.