Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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GuySuCo 2011 First Crop
(Aired 19 June 2011)

   Again and again I have to point out the nonsense which is being fed to the Guyanese people by the board of GuySuCo, this corporation which is a drain on the national treasury to the tune of around 3-4 billion dollars a year at this time, seem to be sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of lies, half-truths, excuses and deception.

    On the 29th of March 2011 the Chief executive officer [CEO] of GuySuCo told the nation in the Stabroek News that the board has decided to extend the first crop after devastating rains. He is quoted as stating that he will not revise his first crop estimate of 138,793 tons after three weeks of devastating rains, and that that the crop would be extended to May 2011 to make up the loss of the three weeks due to rainfall.

  In the press release by CEO Bhim on the 29th March 2011 GuySuCo's production according to him was 47,000 tons against an estimated crop production of 138,793 tons and that he was confident that he will achieve his target.

As usual he didn't! In a first crop of 23 weeks up to week ending 9th June 2011, GuySuCo achieved its the weekly targets only twice, in week 4 and in week 16.

   Bhim had stated that with the fist crop pushed back to May, the second crop is likely to start much earlier he said that the second crop was scheduled to start in July but that he may be forced to start in June to achieve his annual target of 305,000 tons. This does not make a lot of sense to me, but I am quoting directly from the Stabroek news article of the date specified and I will give Mr. Bhim the benefit of the doubt and assume that the reporter who wrote the piece mixed up what he said somewhat.

    It should read that since he was forced to prolong his first crop in view of the rain he will continue grinding until the end of May and try to do maintenance expeditiously for the second crop which should start in July and he should really not force grinding past the last week of May. Well even if this was the right interpretation of what he said, some factories were still grinding up to the week ending 9th June 2011.

    Since the 2010 year produced 220,000 tons of sugar Bhim did not elaborate on how he was going to achieve 305,000 tons in 2010. It's the 12th June now and some estates are still fighting up with their first crops and only the lord in heaven knows when these estates will stop to do out of crop maintenance of the factories for the second and larger crop.

    Again I have to point out that the sugar cane plant which over centuries was been bred to be an annual crop, if it is not reaped on time 12 months after its last reaping or 12.5-13 months after it is first planted, it will deteriorate in the ground!  So starting this year with 400,000 tons of overrun canes left unreaped from last year, I was not optimistic that reaping canes 14 months old and more would give us a good crop this year but that is only me with nearly forty years experience in sugar, who am I to argue with the current board of the Guyana Sugar Corporation who have not made a single legitimate estimate on the industry since 1998. The ink does not have time to dry on their development plans before they become obsolete.     

     And on the 21st January 2011 the following appeared in the Kaiteur news quote "GuySuCo, faced with over 400,000 tonnes of cane left in the field from the last crop of 2010, had started this year's first crop weeks earlier than the February commencement to buy time and meet market demands"

The article continues quote "the Corporation yesterday explained that in total, 1100 workers were listed [at Rose Hall] only 250 turned out. The rest were demanding that they be paid an extra $1000 per bed to harvest cane which was to be harvested in the second crop of 2010" end quote i.e. they were demanding more because the canes were lighter etc. So whilst GuySuCo was telling the Guyanese people that the canes were in the ground they were not telling them that it was also getting lighter, that inversion was going on in the plant and the sucrose was being broken down to reducing sugars and that it would take a lot more tons of cane to make a ton of sugar etc. But we who knew, knew!!

   Now let's take a look at the GuySuCo first crop of 2011 as of week ending June 9th 2011 these people who had little or no factory maintenance in December/January since they started the crop early in January and not February as is the historical practice are still grinding up to June 9th and up to that time from January to June GuySuCo had only produced 104,924 tons of sugar which was only 75.6 % of the first crop target i.e. 33,869 tons short of the 1st crop target. Now ladies and gentlemen I am saying that whilst I understand the predicament of the corporation it seems to me that this year GuySuCo will attempt to run both crops with a very limited maintenance period for its factories and that is dangerous, criminally so. This is what happens when politics and not good business judgement prevails. It seems that since this is an election year targets have to be met no matter what damage it causes.

     Up to the 9th June 2011 the industry had produced a total of 104,924 tons of sugar of an estimated 138,793 tons i.e. they were short 33,868 tons of their estimated production!

     The biggest contributor to this mess was Skeldon which only produced 30.5 % of what it was estimated to produce this crop i.e.it produced 10,435 tons of an estimate of 34,203 tons, so of the 33,869 tons shortfall in the first crop of 2011, 23,768 tons were from Skeldon alone!!! i.e. the anchor is still around our necks, the entire rest of the estates in our industry only had a shortfall of 10,101tons. There were some surprises in this as well Blairmont produced 110% of its estimated production and Rose Hall produced 105 % of its estimated production so I offer my congratulations to the management and workers there.    

     There was some disappointment at Enmore which only produced 68.4 % of what it was supposed to produce and LBI produced only 64.7 % of its estimated production. Uitvlught/Leonora requires special mention since they produced 93.4% of their estimated production and Wales didn't do so badly either with 84.1 %. So again and perhaps forever Skeldon remains the millstone around GuySuCo's and the nation's neck, I am not sure what has contributed to the huge shortfall at Enmore and LBI where most of the remaining 10,000 Ton shortfall happened, but I would be very surprised if the precipitate closure of the LBI factory did not have something to do with it.

   What will happen for the rest of the year? well our industry has always had a 40%-60% crop distribution this happens because we have two rainfall seasons December/January and May/June this has been historically the situation, in recent years there has been some shift in the distribution of the rainfall but we need a good hydro met department to analyse the available data and tell us what is going on, and I want to state categorically we are not getting more rainfall than in the past it is just GuySuCo's excuse to tell us why they are not producing. We do seem however not to be getting the same distribution, historically the first crop usually starts in February and since the rains will come sometime in May –June the crop could sometimes go until the first or second week in May so we only have February, March, April and two weeks in May [if we are lucky] to complete our first crop; the second crop usually starts in July and runs from half July, August, September. October, November and half December etc. so anyone can see that the cropping period is much longer in the second crop than in the first crop. That's why we have our crop distributed around 40% in the first crop and 60% in the second crop.

   If in 2011 the first crop yielded 104,000 tons sugar then this will be 40% of the total year's production which means that if we are cautious and realistic we can only look forward to a second crop of similar production over time, so if 40% is 104,000 Tons then 100% will be 100 x 104,000/40= 260,000 tons. We still have overrun canes at Skeldon, we still have labour shortages, we still have the Skeldon factory problems which is still a massive white elephant so expecting more than 260,000 tons this year based on the performance so far whilst not impossible, is not probable. Especially since the first crop was an astonishing 23 weeks long and still going. But since miracles do happen and GuySuCo has been asking for one for a few years now, maybe it will happen for them this time, but I doubt it!