India to provide technical expertise to resuscitate closed sugar estates

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha was accompanied by  Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, H.E. Dr. K. J. Srinivasa on an assessment tour of the estates in Regions 5 and 6. (DPI)

The Government is seeking to have the Private Sector partner with it in ensuring that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) becomes a success. In doing so, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana His Excellency Dr K J Srinivasa has signalled his willingness to promote Guyana’s sugar industry to India.

On Saturday, the High Commissioner visited the four sugar estates in Berbice; Blairmont in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and the three estates in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); Rosehall, Albion and Skeldon.

The High Commissioner was accompanied by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha. He has committed to providing technical experts from India to look at both the factories and the cultivation aspects of the operations.

According to the Agriculture Minister, he is hopeful that the High Commissioner’s visit to the estates would see Expressions of Interest from Indian nationals who are looking to invest in the local sugar industry.

GuySuCo is currently seeking both local and foreign investors. Mustapha said his Ministry is hoping to have a public-private partnership for GuySuCo, which would ensure not only the Government’s but also the Private Sector’s involvement in the industry.

The Minister has since met with both the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), which have both expressed interest in investing in the local sugar industry and GuySuCo.

“We are looking at the works that are going on especially at Rosehall and Skeldon. Physical works have already commenced to have both the Rosehall and Skeldon sugar factories reopened,” the Minister told this publication.

Both factories are being cleaned and engineers are looking at the mechanical aspect to see what needs to be replaced and what could be repaired.

At Skeldon, more than one hundred persons have been reemployed to do fieldwork while Rosehall has re-employed one hundred and seventy-five persons in the field. This is in addition to factory workers. That estate is expected to re-employ a further two hundred persons to carry out fieldwork by the end of the year.

At Skeldon, in excess of two hundred and fifty punts has so far been resuscitated and are ready for use when the factory recommences operation.

Meanwhile, field workers at Skeldon are engaged in removing cans from fields which were abundant when that estate was closed. “The ratoons will be preserved so that they can be used for planting as we rehab those fields,” Mustapha told this publication.

Over the next two months, a further two hundred persons are expected to be reemployed to plant and carry out crop husbandry including fertilising of the new canes. According to the Agriculture Minister, it is hoped that in the coming year that estate will have planting material to cultivate other fields.

Meanwhile, the High Commissioner was told that the Skeldon sugar factory should start producing sugar by early 2022. However, Rosehall is predicting that sugar production will start on the estate by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, budgetary funds for the reopening of the four sugar estates have started to be disbursed to those estates.