By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com]- The sugar industry in Guyana is dead and the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is sinking millions of dollars into an industry that it knows cannot be sustained for much longer, according to former PNCR Parliamentarian and prominent businessman, Stanley Ming.
He says the PPP’s support base is traditionally from Guyanese who work in the sugar industry and as such they are deliberately using tax payers’ money to pump into an industry that is being eliminated in many parts of the world.
When asked to justify his statement Ming explained, “every time we hear from the Government that they are restructuring the Board for the sugar corporation, they are bringing in this person from this other country to fix the Skeldon Plant and every year it’s a new excuse, if it’s not the Plant, it’s the weather.”
According to Ming, the excuses that government continues to offer for the continued failure of the industry are all cover ups for their own political gains.
“Sugar all over the world is now being replaced by substitute sweeteners and the price that sugar is being sold for now on the world market is less than the cost of production and there is no way that we can bring the cost down to meet what is the world price for sugar is, so we are flagging a dead horse,” Ming told reporters during a lunch time series on Friday, March 20 which was organized by the Guyana Press Association.
He went on to add that, “what is happening in Guyana is that politicians think about what they need to do in the next four years to win the votes of the next election; they don’t think about the long term future of any country and that’s not only Guyana.”
Ming’s alternative is a product called Quinoa which is a good gluten-free source of protein, iron and fiber. It is a $US6B product that a number of countries are transitioning to as a source of their country’s income and can be grown in any country.
“I went to the supermarket just last week in the United States and a pack of Quinoa is US$28 and the rice or any other grain is less than a quarter of the price.”
He used Taiwan as an example of how a country can diversify its income in an Agricultural setting, after transitioning from sugar.
“Taiwan doesn’t produce one ounce of sugar anymore; they buy it, they import it but they created plots of land throughout the country where they had agricultural scientist develop techniques and educate the people on how to grow better crops that are more valuable to the world market and today the farmers that were growing sugar for example one acre of sweet pepper is US$10,000, an acre of rice is 1.5 tonnes,” Ming explained.
Meanwhile, Head of the African Cultural & Development Association, Eric Phillips said phasing out the sugar industry is not intended to take sugar workers out of work.