Guyana looking to tap into regional market to export 200,000 tonnes of refined sugar – Agri Minister

– says investor to build Enmore sugar refinery being examined

With a potential market to export over 200,000 tonnes of refined sugar to the Caribbean, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is currently looking at an investor interested in building a sugar refinery at Enmore on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
During a recent video broadcast, Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha spoke of ways in which the government is going about making the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) profitable including the building of a sugar refinery, to tap into the regional market.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

“We’re looking at a private investor to build a (sugar) refinery at Enmore. We still have options at Skeldon. We’ll start planting cane at Skeldon. We’re planning to do another 5000 hectares of planting there. So, all those plans are in place at GUYSUCO.”
“We are going into value-added production. We want to do a variety of sugar, not only the raw sugar. So that is why we’re working very hard to get this refinery at Enmore. Right now, there are opportunities right in the Caribbean, that we can sell over 200,000 tonnes of refined sugar in the Caribbean. We have a market for that.”
It had previously been announced this year that the Enmore Sugar Estate, one of several sugar estates that were closed down and abandoned by the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government, would be reconstructed into a sugar refinery within the next two years.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali had, some time ago, disclosed that the Enmore estate would be developed into an industrial zone and a state-of-the-art machine shop and pipe yard. However, plans have been changed after investors indicated their interest in the development of the estate.
As a result, this sugar refinery has become another project under the PPP/C Government aimed at revitalising the sugar industry. With Guyana’s brown sugar production now projected to again increase to 100,000 tonnes annually from this year, it is expected that the Enmore facility will be able to refine up to 180,000 metric tonnes annually.

The Enmore sugar estate

A refinery is different from a sugar mill, in that the latter crushes the cane stalks, squeezes the juice from the plant, and facilitates crystallization of the juice so it turns into raw sugar; whereas a refinery converts that raw sugar into food-grade white sugar.
Other ways of making GUYSUCO profitable include the mechanisation of the industry, which has seen a five-year strategic plan being developed to advance the mechanising of all the estates such as the refurbishing of generators across the industry, the building of 250 new punts, the creation of a new packaging plant at Albion, and the expansion of the packaging plant at Blairmont, among other initiatives.
“People have an option, people have opportunities where you can go to other sectors for employment. So, these things, what we have to do is very important, in terms of producing sugar and also, we are trying to mechanise GUYSUCO so that we’ll not only depend on manual labour.”
“You see, if we want to improve production and increase productivity, you have to go into mechanisation to survive and bring down the cost of production. So we’re doing that in GUYSUCO. Whilst we’re doing that, we have moved the packaging plant to Albion to start the packaging plant there,” Mustapha further said.
Back in 2016, the former Government closed the Wales Estate, and the following year, shut down the Enmore, Rose Hall, and Skeldon Estates, putting over 7000 sugar workers on the breadline. The downsising of the sugar industry resulted in only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont, and Albion Estates being left in operation.
After taking office in 2020, the PPP/C Government had announced in the Emergency Budget presented in September 2020, that some $5 billion would be injected into the sugar industry for the phased reopening of the closed estates. Since then, sizeable allocations have been made to return the sector to its former glory.
GuySuCo was allocated a further $2 billion in the 2021 Budget by the PPP/C Government for capital works to be undertaken at the various estates to help in the turnaround of the sugar industry. Then in 2022, GuySuCo received $1 billion in supplementary funds from the Government. (G-3)