The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is projected to breakeven by 2026 following plans to scale up the production of ethanol and ‘high grade’ molasses which will be key to the company achieving true sustainability. Making this disclosure in the House this morning was the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, who defended the allocation of some $30B since 2020 to prop up the industry amid low sugar prices internationally and a three-year scaling down of the local sector by the former David Granger-led administration.
Mustapha, in response to questions from Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs), noted his optimism in the company returning to viability in four years. His optimism, however, was not enough for Opposition MP, Jermaine Figueira, who called for definitive plans.
Minister Mustapha said that a plan is being prepared but noted GuySuCo is “not only about sugar”. He added that the company remains the largest employer in major, populated communities and it adds to the economic stability of those villages since tens of thousands benefit directly and indirectly from the corporation.
He also noted that the company offers drainage and irrigation relief to other crop farmers and coastal communities, whereas the absence of the company resulted in the National Drainage and Irrigation Department (NDIA) shelling out close to $1.8B to service those communities.
“That’s the social things that GuySuCo does in those communities, so whatever it takes to bring back GuySuCo, the PPP government will make sure it makes the necessary resources available,” he said.
Figueira, while acknowledging the importance of the company, suggested that the government, instead of investing $30B solely in sugar, should look at the planting of vegetables and fruits that are in high demand, including scotch bonnet peppers and soursop. He was keen to note that the price to produce sugar far exceeds the price of the commodity hence the recommendation to examine alternative crops.
“The sugar industry is changing, and we cannot compete in the international market. Even if you’re projecting to breakeven in 2026, why isn’t GuySuCo taking this money – which I believe is not being prudently spent – and reinvest in the sugar workers: retrain them, give them the land so that they can give it to their families, rather than the inheritance of a cutlass,” the Opposition MP said.
But Mustapha noted that ethanol and high-grade molasses production will rescue the company, and the works being done in the industry are geared at this objective.
“I don’t want to be part of GuySuCo to plant soursop, or plant cassava or what the comrade talked about. GuySuCo is moving in different directions. We have a comprehensive plan. We started the study on producing ethanol; we’re staring the study on looking at high-grade molasses; we’ve increased private participation in the fields at Uitvlugt; and we’re looking at various means and ways to ensure that we diversify GuySuCo and we’re moving there,” he said.
The Minister reported that the Rose Hall Sugar Estate will be the first to be reopened. Works on the factory are about 41 percent complete