Don’t politicise sugar …PM floats a range of diversification options for GuySuCo
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

CALLING on politicians to refrain from politicising the sugar industry, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has said that “sugar will remain the remit of GUYSUCO (the Guyana Sugar Corporation)” even as he stressed the importance of diversification. Speaking at the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) bi-weekly press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister made it clear that in order to save the ailing industry there is a great need for diversification. “…you’d have to be able to disaggregate certain functions because it has now become oppressive to hand out to do the annual ritual, bail-out of the industry- so far $40B,has been spent on bail-out,” he stated.
He described the constant bailing out of the sugar industry as “raiding the treasury,” while stressing that the functions of the industry that were focused primarily on sugar would now have to be diversified so as to accommodate other activities that have the potential to be significant foreign exchange earners. He pointed to rice and dairy as possible areas for both foreign and local investments. The Prime Minister’s comments came in response to statements by former Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who in the Friday November 18, 2016 edition of the Guyana Times newspaper said the APNU+AFC government is setting the stage to end sugar. “That is false!” responded the Prime Minister, who reminded the media that the Skeldon sugar factory has failed to live up to its expectations. Over US$200M has been spent on the facility, but despite the investment, the factory has been referred to as a “white elephant.”
“That’s a failed elephant- this elephant that we inherited was not producing sugar in accordance with what was envisaged originally…what do you do with Skeldon? You’d have to have a method to allow other players to come in either to refurbish the factory, to diversify crops to work out an arrangement with private cane farmers…a combination of several activities. Like Wales, for example, there are proposals that the factory itself should be converted to do dairy products.”
Nagamootoo stressed the importance of diversification, noting that Guyana has enough land that can be made available for cattle-rearing. “We are still importing premium beef in Guyana when we have lands that could produce the same nice juicy cuts…the ones in the hotels are coming from outside. We are still importing pasteurised milk, etc. and another section of the factory, if lands are made available, we could have our own juices made.”
The Prime Minister is of the opinion that a forensic study of all estate lands be done to ascertain what those very lands can be used for in light of diversification. Additionally, he believes that the labour force within the sugar industry needs to be absorbed and retrained to fit into a “new value-added chain of production.”
He noted the possibility of using GUYSUCO’s lands to produce new varieties of rice that are versatile and can be converted into “high-class foods for the food chains of the world.” “I am firmly of the belief that you need strong leadership right now to address the issues of the sugar industry. Sugar should not be politicised, there is too much at stake; too much history in this country…[the] psychological harm to people who feel if sugar could be diversified then their livelihood comes to an end; no, their livelihood could be re-made, re-positioned so that you have better value, better technology,” he told reporters.
The Prime Minister stressed that sugar workers and their families need to be made to understand that they deserve a better quality of life and better type of employment that would “place them at the higher end of the value chain than the job of a minion mules working in the sun with a cutlass firing chops at cane roots.”
Sugar isn’t dead he asserted, noting that it is going to be contained to manageable proportions to make bulk sugar economical. The rest of the estates where there are lands as is the case of Skeldon can be treated as diversified platforms for partnership with local and foreign businesses which can convert the existing resources into high-end products, including ethanol and pharmaceutical products. “There is a long line of investors waiting to come to Guyana to do that,” he asserted. “Don’t allow politics to destroy us,” Nagamootoo pleaded, while noting that sugar has been a critical aspect of the country’s foreign exchange and even though money is being lost, Guyana still benefits from some foreign exchange. “Sugar has been a political football because of the peculiar nature of its constituency; its ethnic nature – it has become a fiefdom of some politicians and their sidekicks who see sugar workers not in terms of people who could be transformed and their future made better, but see them as just a check-out machine where they can get union dues every month.”
The APNU+AFC government he said views the transformation of the sugar industry as vital.


2 thoughts on “Don’t politicise sugar …PM floats a range of diversification options for GuySuCo”

  1. HEMP, !HEMP!, HEMP! Why cant the Government see the tremendous benefit of this completely new, very profitable, to the ordinary farmer, the big scale farmer, the nations coffers, the earning of export currency, and most of all. employment with good wages for the thousands of sugar workers, that will be laid of? No it is not Marijauna, it is a completely different strain of Sativa Cannibis , with almost non existant levels, of THC, which is what gives you the high in weed. The DEA knows it , the USA knows it, Canada and countries in Africa and S America grow it, successfully. .WHY DOES ONLY THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA NOT SEE THE THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY, AND CONTINUE TO IGNORE THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS, OF THIS NEW INDUSTRY

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
All our printed editions are available online
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.