Addressing GUYSUCO’s production problems


Production problems continue to affect our sugar industry which has been going through some tough times in recent years and these problems have been aggravated by adverse weather conditions, strikes, shortage of labour and steep cuts in prices with the end of the EU sugar protocol.The new Skeldon factory which should have boosted production significantly experienced initial technical problems but they are currently being fixed and according to Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, there has been some improvement in its functioning since the completion of some remedial works.
However, Dr. Ramsammy pointed out that they are not satisfied with at least one of the six components modified by Bosch Engineering and that the company has been asked to return to rectify that.
So it seems that the technical problems at the factory would soon be fixed. But a more concerned disclosure by the minister is that GUYSUCO is deliberately curtailing the first crop of 2013 in an effort to achieve better yields in the next crop from canes which are very young at this stage. Consequently, it is very unlikely that the 70,000 tonnes targeted for this crop will be achieved, since some estates have stopped grinding earlier than originally intended.
“So instead of working into May and then take June and most of July for the preparation for the second crop, for servicing the factories and so on, we are going to take May and half of April to do some of the servicing, and therefore we are cutting this crop short and utilising the cane at a time when it will give greater yield so that we will make up for the losses in the first crop by having better cane to work with,” he disclosed.
While the explanation by the minister seems to be a plausible and logical one, it raises other questions, and one of them is: if the second crop experiences lengthy periods of heavy rainfall which would not be improbable, bearing the unusual weather pattern we have been experiencing in recent years.
The other question is how would the lower production for the first crop affect the incentive packages of the workers? These are questions to which GUYSUCO needs to give serious consideration.
However, what has emerged here is the fact that there is shortage of canes for the first crop and this is an issue which requires decisive and urgent action, particularly in light of the Skeldon factory improving its production capacity.
It would seem though, that with the perpetual problems being faced by the corporation, there has to be a comprehensive restructuring of its production mode and President Donald Ramotar has alluded to this.
In this regard, the President spoke to the need for greater mechanisation of the industry in order to ensure its survival. Last Friday, the President said that, in the prevailing conditions, there is now need for greater dependency on mechanisation. He informed that the level of production being churned out is “worrying,” and said he is also not very optimistic about recent predictions. “I have been told that the next crop should be a better one…, but I have been told that before.”
The President said that significant attention would have to be placed on the levels of production within the industry.

The President is correct, as experience has shown that labour-intensive methods do not readily adapt to change. Capital-intensive methods can, however, easily be adjusted to suit modern trends in production due to their flexibility.
The farmer, for instance, using capital-intensive methods of production can produce far more than the one using labour-intensive means. Capital-intensive methods are therefore clearly associated with high levels of output. For this reason poor countries must opt for this method if they are to increase their pace of development.
Experience has shown also that both developed and developing countries have attained their levels of development by adopting capital-intensive methods of production. Therefore, developing economies must also invest heavily in this technique of production in order to develop.
Our sugar industry has no other choice but to move continuously and quickly towards the capital-intensive mode of production if it is to make a dramatic turn around which is not an option but an imperative in the Guyanese context.