Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha has said the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) can explore several possibilities for sugar, including producing white sugar, and exporting to the Caribbean market and distilleries, among its plans to revive the industry.
The Minister made this statement at a recent meeting with cane farmers in Skeldon, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sasenarine Singh, who also attended the meeting, said the team crafting the turnaround plan for the company is including different options to ensure feasibility.
Value-added production is one of these. Mr. Singh said the goal is to make GuySuCo more efficient as the sugar industry will need to diversify to be successful.
“GuySuCo has to move up the value chain to sugar related value-added products. The days of raw, brown sugar [are] going to be a challenge; we have to move to other products,” he said.
The CEO added that ethanol production and agro-energy are also being considered.
He also spoke of the important social role that the company plays explaining that “GuySuCo is not as big of a burden as people claim it was. GuySuCo puts into this economy about $4 billion in [drainage and irrigation] services across rural Demerara and rural Berbice; this is fundamental cash.”
The CEO told the farmers that a lot of work is being done to fix human resources and leadership challenges at the factories to “find out what is going wrong so we can refit it and make it better.
“I agree that GuySuCo has some levels of inefficiency, but we are driving an attitude … where GuySuCo will be more service oriented, more productivity oriented but at the same time serving that important principle that we cannot close GuySuCo because of the important social economic function it serves to rural Demerara and rural Berbice.”
The Government of Guyana in the Emergency Budget 2020 allocated a total of $5 billion to revive the sugar industry. However, currently, the company is strapped for cash.
“I want to make this absolutely clear, there is no excess cash in GuySuCo today. In August the Minister caused us to get $600 million from the Government to pay salaries, this is how difficult it is,” the CEO said.
When the previous administration closed several sugar estates, their assets were transferred to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited. At Rose Hall, the CEO said, “we left 22 functional tractors; we got back about three frames. We are starting from zero on some of these estates.”
However, Mr. Singh said he is optimistic about a turnaround as “Enmore started from zero, but today the Enmore Packing plant is packaging sugar for the local market, at a profit.”
Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha iterated that the assets that were transferred to NICIL under the previous administration will be returned to GuySuCo. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]