The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government will not shy away from its pre-election commitment to reopen sugar estates that were closed by the APNU+AFC government between 2015 and 2020. In fact, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday told the National Assembly that the second half of 2023 will see the reopening of the Rose Hall estate.
Mustapha made this disclosure during his contribution to the ongoing National Budget debates.
The minister reminded that the APNU+AFC closed four sugar estates during its term in office. He said that the three remaining estates that were “reluctantly” kept open, were left to limp along with little to no capital investments.
He said that by the time he assumed his current post, sugar production had plummeted, and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was in dire financial straits.
Mustapha reminded that the PPP/C government promised to restart three of the four shuttered Estates and “we are well on our way in a phased manner to re-opening Rose Hall.”
During an interview conducted subsequent to his presentation, Minister Mustapha spoke in more detail about some of his plans for the sugar industry.
He said that with the handsome $4B allocation for sugar, investments would continue at Albion, Rose Hall, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt, by returning to lands that were out of cane prior to 2020 and damaged by the floods of 2021.
Further, Mustapha said that mechanized field layout development will be intensified and Albion and Blairmont are expected to achieve 60% mechanized field operations by 2026.
Minister Mustapha said that 77% of sugar production will be marketed as bagged or packaged in 2023 as compared to 48% in 2022.
According to the minister, 2023 will see the commencement of the construction of the Albion Packaging Plant; the expansion of the capacity of the Blairmont Packaging Plant; and, the acquisition of a drying machine to meet the needs of premium markets.
Mustapha told Guyana Standard that with such heavy investments in sound plans, the sugar sector is expected to recover and expand by 29.3 per cent.
He said that he has complete confidence that GuySuCo will be able to achieve the target of 100,000 tonnes of sugar by 2024.