Repeatedly failing to reach even its revised production targets in recent years, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GySuCo) is about to shrink the duration of its two annual crops to cope with longer wet weather spells, Agriculture Minister Leslie Ramsammy said.

He noted that in recent years, bad weather has resulted in the first crop shrinking from 16 weeks to 13 weeks and the second crop from 16 weeks to 11 weeks.

Under the new arrangement, he said Guysuco would plan for shorter crops and take advantage of additional dry days.

“There is no way in the last few years and in the coming years that you can plan to have thirteen nice weeks of weather, Guyana doesn’t have that anymore,” he said.

Statistics show, for example, that Guysuco had aimed to first produce 290,000 tons of the sweetener in 2009 and then revised it 248,668 but ended up producing 233,736 tons. In 2010, the company had set itself a target of 264,000 but rallied to 220,862. The following year, Guysuco again revised its target twice from 300,000 to 282,000 tons before slumping 235,000 tons. This year, the producer hopes to scrape in 236,000 out of a target of 265,000.

Guysuco has consistently blamed rainy weather and unrest for the trail of poor production while the union has added bad management including poor crop husbandry to the list of reasons.

But the Agriculture Minister has ruled out bad management as the major reason for low production, saying that evidence at Skeldon and other estates shows that the production peaks during the seven dry weeks by between 10 and 60 percent.

“It simply does not have the opportunity days in which to produce sugar and therefore it will have to restructure how we are producing sugar in Guyana and that will mean major restructuring,” he said.

Ramsammy ruled out the closure of more sugar estates during the next 10 years and vowed that with the restructured planting and harvesting periods the industry would be successful.

The Agriculture Minister noted that 33 percent of the estates have been reoriented to take advantage of greater mechanisation and cope with the growing shortage of manual labour.

Evidence shows that sugar industry workers are increasingly turning their attention to the booming construction industry here and in the Caribbean. Another reason for the shortage is that most rural families in the sugar belt have been ensuring that their children are better educated so that they do not have to engage in ‘back-breaking’ work on sugar plantations.

“We have a global problem with labour for the sugar industry and therefore mechanisation is an imperative, not an option,” said Ramsammy.

source: demerarawaves

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