Guysuco should get out of sugar- APNU; GAWU wants studies

Guysuco should get out of sugar- APNU; GAWU wants studies done

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 – Demerara Waves

Harmon -Vieira

APNU’s Joseph Harmon (left) and his coalition colleague, Tony Vieria

A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Tony Vieria on Tuesday said the highly indebted and low-producing Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco) should be significantly scaled down and the lands used for fish farming and cane-derived ethanol.

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), however, wants studies to be first conducted about the prospects for those alternatives. 

Vieria said that due to bad field conversion and poor mechanisation, sugar should be purchased only for export to the European Union (EU) and workers given jobs in aquaculture farms that would be less labour intensive. “It doesn’t mean to say that the sugar workers would not have a job because they could work in the aquaculture system and this is something that could bring wealth to the nation,” he told a news conference.

He reasoned that Guyana should get out of sugar because of a number of factors including heavy rainfall, the need for several tons of cane to yield one ton of sugar and long periods of transporting cane to the factory due to labour shortage.

Guyana, he suggested, should sell its locally-produced sugar to the European Union (EU) for US$700 per ton and import the sweetener for domestic consumption at US$200 per ton.

Vieria, a former senior staffer of Guysuco, said studies have shown that 300 acres of land can yield US$700 million gross annually from fish farming. “We could become one of the world’s biggest aquaculture producers and make more money than rice, bauxite and everything combined,” said APNU’s spokesman on sugar.

For Guyana to reap rich rewards from aquaculture, he said the country would have to team up with Ecuador- the largest producer in this part of the world- to benefit from its wealth of experience.

While Vieria recommended that Guyana plants sugar to produce ethanol, he said the country might have to phase out of cane planting altogether because the country would be unable to produce that bio-fuel competitively. “Actually, we are coming out of cane because even if we are doing ethanol we are not going to be a competitive producer,” he said, adding that Guyana would need to produce ethanol at the same price of gasoline.

But the President of GAWU, Komal Chand said the time has come to conduct in-depth studies to determine the future of the sugar industry. “We have to do the kind of studies- we have to see whether indeed sugar has lost its relevance,” he told Demerara Waves Online News ( Chand said the studies would guide policymakers on how other ventures could complement sugar. At the same time, he maintained that that the sugar industry could be salvaged because the infrastructure such as factories, harvesters and land.

Guysuco’s sugar production target for this year has been set at 216,000. That’s after raking in only 187,000 tons in 2013- the lowest in 20 years- instead of the targeted 240,000 tons.

The corporation owes its  creditors, including suppliers and banks, more than GUY$10 billion. At the same time, its annual wage and salary bill is more than 60 percent of revenue.

Also read:

PPP attacks APNU’s downsizing plan for sugar industy ; Agri Minister confident of improvement

Read full report here < click

Also read other articles by Tony Vieira on sugar here:

The real problem of GuySuCo – Tony Vieira  < click

Related Content – Other letters by Tony Vieira on the sugar industry:

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  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 7:39 am

    Nice one….sugar to fish farming…….

    Now here is another “red herring”….Privatise the sugar industry.!!!

    In diversification one can be competitive by privatisation…

    Sell off some of sugar estates that are loosing the least
    (Assuming all are loosing) to the private sector or to joint
    partnerships gov/private….
    If there are any estates making a profit (study will reveal)
    am sure they will be snapped up by local businesses.
    The unprofitable ones can be 50/50 partnerships with
    Govt/private ownership. The “white elephants” can be sold
    off as “nature reserve” …joking (–) ! Seriously these can become
    alternative agri businesses…or even “small individual / cane /rice/grapes/fruit
    /food growers associations or cooperatives….no not Burnham style
    cooperatives…ha ha .!! PRIVATE COOPERATIVES….one member one vote.
    Power to the people not people power.

    Where governments go wrong “politically” “economically” is by focusing their
    attention on BIG Businesses rather than SMALL sustainable businesses.
    Invest in your people not your politics….rather than subsidising big businesses
    encourage/subsidise small sustainable businesses…..job creators
    tax payers….not tax avoiders/evaders corporations.

    Now you know where my political sentiments/loyalities are.
    With the common/working class peoples.!!
    I try to be objective.
    Put more of taxpayers money into R+D (research and development)
    education education education.
    But get on with it.!
    If Guyana is to survive in our competitive world it must invest in its peoples,
    One people one nation one destiny.
    My spin


  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 10:10 am

    A layman’s view on sugar….
    1. In my local tescos in UK I buy Demerara sugar (made in Mauritius) stated
    on package….for £1.29 KG…£0.65 pound.
    2. World price for raw sugar $0.18 pound.

    3. Question…who is profiteering.? Find the answer and you have the solution for way forward of Guyana s sugar industry.

    This is not rocket science…all the info is available by googling !
    We are at a crossroads on internet….
    Which shall we take….a free for all usage or limited usage.
    Over 8 billion people do not have internet in their homes.
    89% of homes in UK have internet in their homes…by 2020
    will be nearer 100%…access to information….if interested.

    Hope someone reading this can enlighten me before I become suicidal…

    In despair

  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 10:25 am

    For those who do not have access to internet…
    £=346 GUYD

    2240LBS X $0.18USD pound …World price raw sugar = $112 a ton.
    If my figures correct explanation necessary above quote of USD700 A TON.

  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 10:34 am

    2240 pounds = ton
    2240 x .18 cents a pound = 403.20 a ton…USD
    Maybe if sugar was traded in Euros we can obtain $700 USD A TON.

  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 10:39 am

    One more exchange rate to confuse more…..

    Confused !

  • Abert  On 03/12/2014 at 2:06 pm

    Kamtan you should apply for the job as sugar advisor. in Guyana. Everything is different with Guyana. For a start we had a series of incompetent political leaders in our short history. Then to make matters worse they nationalize foreign owned businesses when they don’t know how to manage anything. They have social, corruption, and race problems and all indications seem to suggest they are unable or unwilling to solve them, or are using these problems largely for political and personal gain. I agree with you on one thing. Govt should put more emphasis on privatization. Even with this I have doubts. All those politicians will do is try to full their pockets.

  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 2:52 pm

    Of course …that’s how corruption works….its not only in politricks
    its in every area in societies….in Guyana its endemic.
    It will take strong leadership/laws to “reduce” “discourage”
    corruption but its enforcement is the challenge.

    A policeman receiving peanut wages will accept a bribe more
    easily than one that not only receives a living wage but also who
    knows that he will be prosecuted if he accepts a bribe.
    Try bribeing a policeman in UK and you will probably be jailed
    for it….some say its a police state…but a law enforced is a law respected.

    I will not live in GT or any city as a retiree …cities are dangerous places…
    LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO…every 20 years cities population can double.
    And so does the “risk” of living there.

    At least we agree that “privatision” is an option for the sugar industry.
    Even a 50/50 partnership public/private sector should be tried….
    Let’s see how this one develops….

    Greed feeds corruption and most humans feed on their greed….
    unconsciously/willfully…and I ain’t no physco !

    Thanks your response.

  • Cliff Thomas  On 03/12/2014 at 11:59 pm


  • Ron. Persaud  On 03/13/2014 at 1:08 am

    So too, are para grass and bissi bissi.
    The questions that need answers are:
    What will be the role of sugar production in the economy of Guyana in the 21st. century?
    What acreage (sorry, Hectareage) will support the role?
    Cane Farming?
    And serious questions like that

    • de castro  On 03/13/2014 at 10:54 am

      Will try to answer your questions.
      But please I am no sugar guru or even sugar daddy…ha ha !
      1. Sugar production will decrease.
      2. Supply demand principle areas of cultivation.
      3. GUYSCO not unlike most big corporations economic influences
      /performance questioned….too big to exist.

      Finally cane farming will diversify its operations ….growing…processing…distribution…marketing of
      sugar and its by products….it will survive !

      Important but not essential to Guyana s economy.

      The ways I sees it !
      Personally I don’t “trust” beet sugar (side/long term effects) or
      Drug cartels alternatives as substitution for raw cane sugar….natural.
      Guess that makes me a naturalist….but without the stripping off…ha ha
      Sun worshipers of “machu Picchu” even more ha ha…my twisted British squired sense of humour.!!

  • Ron. Persaud  On 03/13/2014 at 6:36 pm

    Kamptan, you are a very enlightening (and entertaining) correspondent and I always enjoy your contributions.
    I see that I will have to answer my own questions.
    But feel free to chime in any time
    Q.What will be the role of sugar production in the economy of Guyana in the 21st. century?
    A. In the present scheme of things, it will be a drain on the economy because..
    The cost of producing a ton of sugar in Guyana (and in formerly British Guiana) has always been higher than the selling price (per ton) on the world market.
    BG’s and Guyana’s sugar industry has been profitable only because of a protected market. (The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in my day).
    When the industry was about to be nationalized many prophesized that the industry would fail because Guyanese were incapable of such high-powered negotiations.
    But we had Ian MacDonald!
    The prophecy of doom may well be validated because you can have the lowest production costs and the cheapest delivery method: unless you have a market, you will end up with bulging silos … and debt.
    50 years ago, at 2lb. for 13 cents, sugar was the cheapest item on the weekly shopping list… except for salt (2lb. for 5 cents).
    I have no idea what the present day price of salt is, in Guyana; but I will bet something good that the subsidized price of sugar has been unchanged in the last hundred years.
    You see, it is too highly charged ….. Politically!!!

    • Abert  On 03/13/2014 at 8:12 pm

      You did not answer your own question either but the last line shows the reason. The future of sugar in Guyana depends on economics but also politics. The economics seems reasonably clear but the politics is unpredictable.
      Growing labor cost for sugar producers is a problem globally. Hawaii was a large producer of cane sugar but they had difficulty finding workers at the rate they paid. The sugar plantations were all leveled and now pineapple is grown on those fields. In other places they grow a variety of food crops with animal farming for the tourist industry.
      The emphasis in the U.S. and some other places is to minimization the use of sugar and sugar products. Increase in obesity and diabetes that’s why. Kamtan have you ever heard of “Splenda” It is sugar without the chemicals that gives the calories. Widely used in hospitals for diabetic patients and those who want the sweet without the calories. Is it more harmful than raw sugar? Not according to the American institutions who study these things.

      • de castro  On 03/13/2014 at 9:48 pm


        Not being a scientist or economist but just a sugar “baby” at 70….
        Who funds that scientific research on “splenda”…a sweetener.!
        Some drug cartel…Monsanto etal….
        Calories …what calories ! Sugar is present in almost every fruit or vegetable
        we consume…almost everything we drink…except maybe water…and not tap
        or bottled water…creek or river water…best boiled first if not sure
        of source….I have been drinking fresh potable fountain river water
        in mountains of southern Spain …without boiling may add …
        no problem !
        A simple blood test can answer most questions about our health.
        Results in hours not days…with available technology. An I am no doctor
        either…..not funded by some drug company to prescribe their drug.

        Who funds the american institute that produce that finding….
        Come on my friend let’s get real….of course research is necessary
        if we are to find cures for “uncureable” diseases…but a lot of the
        “bull” we are bombarded with as consumers leaves much to be desired.

        My humble opinion

    • de castro  On 03/13/2014 at 10:23 pm

      Nice one my friend…thanks the insightful history on cane sugar in
      relation to the Guyana experience.
      So who is GUYSCO government or private or a partnership of both.
      Didn’t comrade Burnham nationalise Bookers…..who owns the sugar estates
      today….Think Diamond estate is privately owned….the family who
      owned it were his supporters….think Cheddi also wanted to nationalise
      sugar…..both influenced by their “doctrination” in capitalist universities
      One UK other USA…both influenced by political dogma of their times.
      It was fashionable to be communist or socialist…..or capitalist.
      Our world is now being destroyed by greed and averice of humans….
      some educated ones also.
      Don’t wish to stray from Cane Sugar s and Guyana s dilemma…
      Take the politics out of sugar…means removing / disregarding subsidy
      and you end up with “white elephant”…don’t foirsee any change of game
      plan….today tomorrow or yesterday.
      What is price per pound of sugar in Guyana today….world markets in
      USD its $0.18 in GYD = $40GYD…..not sure of my calculations….
      Is sugar in Guyana now $40 a pound ?

      OK my brother nice to know you are still with us in the “battle” of
      freedom from mental slavery….bloodless revolution …revolution
      of thinking/doing.
      Habla luego

  • Abert  On 03/13/2014 at 10:37 pm

    Who fund the research on Splenda. I will tell you what. The average American in the street is the most uninformed or misinformed person you could find. He/She most likely would not be able to tell you that in the U.S. we have the FDA, a federal govt. institution, to check and report results of scientific medical findings, including drug side effects. We have such things as credible institutions who repeat tests to confirm or refute scientific findings. If a drug company is found to be untruthful about its product, its dead. That’s why corporations with shady pharmaceuticals or manufactured foods go outside the U.S. to escape scrutiny, or go to over the counter health stores……….where people consume products at their own risk.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 03/14/2014 at 2:04 am

    Lest there be any doubt, I affirm my opinion that the sugar industry will be a drain on the economy of Guyana and will soon drain the economy totally, absolutely and entirely!
    One of “Murphy’s Laws” ??? states that if left to themselves, things will go from bad to worse.
    The industry sorely needs a “Lord Campbell”; a “Harold Davis”: or indeed a “Joe Vieira”.
    The last thing it needs is a “Komal Chand”.
    “Kicking the can down the road” is a poor leadership style.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 03/15/2014 at 12:24 am

    …and how about this? The role of sugar production may well be as a by product of alcohol production.
    In 1952 (4th. Std. again) I learned that sugar, with its by-products, rum and molasses, was the main industry of the colony of British Guiana.
    70 years later that might read: “El Dorado” rum, with its by product, raw sugar, is the mainstay of Guyana’s economy.

  • de castro  On 03/15/2014 at 5:36 am

    After oil Scotch whisky is next largest export of SCOTLAND.
    RUSSIA its probably Vodka…..hard to swallow…whisky is
    much mellower on the palate…..ganga may be Guyana s
    greatest export …..ha ha!

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