GuySuCo to adopt new technologies to attract younger work force
As the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) undergoes transformation to return to its “glory days”, the company is looking at new ways to attract the younger generation amidst concerns of attrition.
This is according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sasenarine Singh. During a recent event at its La Bonne Intention (LBI) Headquarters, the GuySuCo CEO disclosed that there are approximately 7514 employees at the eight main locations across the country. And while he lauded employees at various levels for working aggressively to get GuySuCo going, Singh sounded a warning of some staff not returning to work.
He pointed out that after losing a significant portion of the workforce including its young generation at the hands of the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration when it closed four estates across the country and sent thousands of sugar workers on the breadline, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to attract youths back into the sugar industry.
“We have a real challenge because attrition is real in the estates,” Singh posited.
The GuySuCo Head went on to outline that it was discovered that “…half of a percentage of the workforce in the fields are not coming back, which means that in about 10 years’ time about five per cent of the workforce on the field are going to disappear and this is something that we are looking at seriously.”
According to Singh, the younger generation is not interested in field work but more captivated by technology. Against this backdrop, the GuySuCo CEO disclosed that they are looking at various means of attracting the younger generation into the sugar industry.
“Generation X wants to do drones and high-tech utilisation of technology in agriculture and I want to announce that [Zulfikar Mustapha, Agriculture] Minister approved and took it to Parliament, the approval of some drones. We are now working with the GDF (Guyana Defence Force) the use of drones. Next year, we’re going to use it to apply agro-chemicals in the no-fly zones areas so we can attract back more younger people into the industry,” he stated.
The previous coalition Government had shut the Wales, Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates – leaving only the Uitvlugt, Blairmont and Albion Estates in operation. However, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic during the 2020 elections campaign trail had promised to reverse these closures, with the exception of Wales, and reemploy majority of the seven thousand-plus sugar workers who were dismissed by the APNU/AFC.
In fact, within its first six months of taking office, the PPP/C Government rehired some 1000 fired sugar workers. Meanwhile, in fulfilment of its promise to reopen the closed estates and return the sugar industry to a viable state, the Dr Irfaan Ali-led Administration has since injected some $9 billion dollars into GuySuCo – $7 billion from the 2020 Emergency Budget to recapitalise the sugar industry and another $2 billion in the 2021 budget for critical capital works at the sugar corporation.
A further $1.5 billion in supplementary funding was also approved in the National Assembly back in June for the restructuring of the sugar industry. At the time, Minister Mustapha had told the National Assembly that so far, 40 per cent of the works to restructure GuySuCo had been completed. He also revealed that a plan for the overall sugar sector was being fine-tuned.
Nevertheless, the GuySuCo CEO said last week that while the road ahead is a difficult and long one, he is confident that the sugar industry, which is projected to earn some $10 billion in revenue this year, will return to its once viable state.
In fact, he revealed that already, the Rose Hall Estate has over 400 men and women toiling to rebuild the factory, and they will be reconstructing the fields, good weather permitting.
Singh recalled that upon assuming the helm of the sugar industry, they met three “badly wounded grinding” estates at Uitvlugt, Albion and Blairmont that were “starved for investments”. Since then, over $2 billion in parts were bought for these three estates in under seven months.
“The sugar industry was literally left abandoned when the new team under the leadership of Minister
Zulfikar Mustapha arrived. But we didn’t shudder, we persevered under the leadership of Minister Zulfikar. We set about cleaning up, we built a strategic plan, we invested in the fields and factories and the sugar industry is on its way…,” he stated.
According to Singh, GuySuCo has transformed tremendously during the 12 months the PPP/C has been in office. He outlined that all three grinding estates have been partially refurbished and workers are doing their best to feed the factory.
In fact, he disclosed that GuySuCo has been producing sugar since July 17, 2021, starting at Blairmont in spite of the May-June floods. He added that Albion has been producing sugar for two straight weeks despite being under water for 60-plus days.
The GuySuCo CEO said that they have been persevering with a “Yes We Can” attitude and the results is already showing. (G12)