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GUYANA | Agriculture Minister calls for diversification of sugar industry

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder says the local sugar industry must be diversified in order to survive Agriculture Minister Noel Holder says the local sugar industry must be diversified in order to survive
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb. 23, CMC – Agriculture Minister Noel Holder says the local sugar industry must be diversified in order to survive and prosper.

Holder made the disclosure on Wednesday during a meeting with representatives from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Errol Hanoman.

The Government also took a consultative approach to the future of GuySuCo and requested the Opposition People’s Progress Party/Civic and the Unions to have dialogue on the way forward and present their proposals for the corporation’s survival.

“It is surprising that, notwithstanding increasing annual losses since 2009, the then government had absolutely no plan to bring the industry back to profitability. Their only plan was annual bailouts. When asked why a socio-economic assessment of the industry was not done, the Opposition spokesperson, Irfaan Ally, responded that this was not done because they had no intention of closing or divesting the industry.”

When presented as to what, therefore was the Government’s plan, apart from the annual bailouts, none was forthcoming. This was extremely irresponsible and unacceptable on the part of the then administration,” Holder said.

The brief, which was presented by PSC Members, Vickram Oditt looked at ways in which GuySuCo can improve yields, the diversification of the industry, proper husbandry, field operations, and the Corporation’s indebtedness.

“GuySuCo’s poor performance has been due to poor sugar cane yields…the result is reduced production and productivity, increased cost and annual losses which keep increasing- a no win situation,” Oditt stated.

The future of the sugar industry is premised on the viability of estates producing sugar at optimal capacity. The Corporation for some time now has not been a star performer and according to the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, unless there is significant investment plugged into GuySuCo the industry will not survive.

Another area which has seen the Corporation suffering the most is the loss of man days which contributes to the Corporation failing to achieve its projected target.

“The sad reality is that from January 2000 to September 2016, GuySuCo lost over 1,000,000 man days as a result of industrial action which is worrying,” Hanoman said.

Recently, workers of the Albion Estate have been taking a stand against such losses and have not been supportive of the Unions organized strikes.

During protest action earlier this week, GuySuCo recorded a 59 per cent work attendance at the Albion Estate, compared to the normal 60 percent turnout.

“It is clear the workers have spoken. They are concerned about their livelihood and they are taking a stand against the Union forcing them to strike against the Government…The stakeholders need to confront the hard realities of sugar. It is a fact that the corporation is highly indebted and requires huge injections of capital to survive annually,” the CEO posted.

  • Countries: Guyana

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