Guyana’s sugar industry in for “good times” – Indian diplomat

…says big players from India interested

With plans being afoot by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to reopen the closed sugar estates and revive the three estates currently operating, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K.J. Srinivasa, has said the local sugar industry is in for some “good times.”
In an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Thursday, the Indian diplomat disclosed that several major players in India’s privatised sugar industry have been eying the sector here in Guyana.

Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa

“I understand from several sources that there are multiple companies interested in working with the Guyanese Government on the sugar sector. This is an ongoing process; it is not a one-night decision process. This is something where the companies that are interested will talk directly to the Government of Guyana. Our job is to facilitate them, and we’re facilitating more and more players as and when they are approaching us.
“In fact, just two weeks ago, we had another big player trying to reach out, and these are really big players in India,” he posited.
Under the previous APNU/AFC Government, four of Guyana’s seven estates – Wales, Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon – were closed in an effort to downsize the ailing sugar industry. It resulted in thousands of sugar workers being placed on the breadline.
The PPP/C had promised on the campaign trail to reopen these estates, and within weeks of being in office, had taken steps in this direction. In fact, last September, the Irfaan Ali-led administration had invited Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for “A joint venture, partnerships, or a leasing arrangement on the now re-opened vested sugar estates at Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon, and also on the operational sugar estates at Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion…”
The notice invited “…interests from the private sector to participate in different forms in the ownership or operations of GuySuCo.”
It was reported last November that, along with one local entity, some nine international companies had submitted EOIs from Asia, North America, South America and the Caribbean. At least three of those foreign companies were Indian.
According to the Indian diplomat on Thursday, with this rise of foreign interest, Guyana’s troubled sugar sector would see better days in the future.
“Everybody is now recognising the importance of Guyana, and the sugar sector in Guyana, I think, is in for good times when and if these companies get to do what they want. They want to develop in harmony with what the Government of Guyana wants, because this is supposed to be a joint venture, in a sense, that everybody has to benefit. It can’t be a pure private play,” the Indian High Commissioner to Guyana asserted.
In the meantime, Dr Srinivasa further disclosed that based on a request from the PPP/C administration, the Indian Government is currently in the process of selecting two sugar experts to assist Guyana in revitalising the sector.
When the PPP/C took office in August 2020, it highlighted that due to gross neglect under the Coalition regime, the three existing factories were operating at only 40-60 per cent capacity. As such, the then new Government tapped into India’s offer of assistance to correct this situation and restore the estates to full operation with the help of expertise in both factory operation and field cultivation.
However, since then, efforts afoot to revive the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) have been on track with the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion estates recording the highest daily production for 2021, as well as 2020 at 710 metric tonnes of sugar on March 11.
Since taking office, the PPP/C administration has injected some $7 billion into the sugar industry – $5 billion in the 2020 Emergency Budget and a further $2 billion in this year’s budget – to help in the turnaround of the sector.
During a previous interview last November, High Commissioner Srinivasa had pointed out that the introduction of the Private Sector into local sugar industry would yield good results for Guyana, as is the case in his country. India’s sugar is completely occupied by the Private Sector, with Government having only a policy-making role and ensuring the regulations are being followed.
Moreover, he had explained that almost all the sugar mills there have diversified their operations, thus making their ventures more profitable.
“Once the sugar cane enters the mill, nothing comes out – literally nothing. They crush the sugarcanes and they make brown sugar, white sugar; then they do the co-generation of electricity; then they do the molasses and ethanol; then they use the bagasse, and then also make fertilisers of the remaining parts. So, nothing ever comes out,” he told this newspaper at the time.
According to the High Commissioner, private farmers play a more integral role in India’s sugar sector.
“Unlike GuySuCo owning so much of lands; in India, the sugar factories are there and they have a catchment area of individual farmers. So, the farmers grow the sugarcanes, but there is a symbiotic relationship between the factories and the farmers. The factories will fund, to certain extent, the [cutting] and so on in exchange for the farmers to supply canes to them. Then they will deduct that amount [for the cutting and other materials provided] and pay whatever is remaining… That’s how the private companies are making a lot of profit and the price of sugar is now up. I think Guyana will stand to gain if they catch that up-trend,” the diplomat had opined. (G8)