Guyana 411- March 18, 2017: Focus on Guyana’s Sugar Industry – video
I do not know where to start! Here are my opinions.
Perhaps the best way is to work backward.
In the whole presentation, the findings of the COI are the most credible. Vibert Parvatan and Nowrang Persaud have extensive knowledge and experience in the sugar industry from colonial days.
2lb. for 13 cents, the retail price of sugar in Guyana, as long as I can remember, was a subsidized price.
The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was a “Preferential Market”.
Quotas and prices were negotiated annually, seven years in advance. It ensured that the sugar production of Guyana would be profitable for the coming seven years; and more importantly, Guyana would have seven years to reform / reinvent its economy if the CSA were to be terminated.
Then there were the US sugar quotas, from time to time. The price was very favorable and the standards exacting. The industry learned of penalties on shipments.
Subsidies and favorable markets were like lifebuoys on the sea of world markets
Independence and later, the nationalization of the industry, placed the marketing of Guyana’s sugar production in great jeopardy. Indeed, I believe that Ian MacDonald earned his appointment as Marketing Director because no one else in the industry possessed the knowledge and negotiating skills. He would be a more credible author of a book titled “Art of the Deal”.
Diversification was always present on Bookers Sugar Estates; the “cow pen” at Uitvlugt when I started working, its more sophisticated counterpart, Bel Air Dairies on the east coast, Kabawer Cattle Ranch on the Berbice river. It took on a more prominent status with the establishment of the “Other Crops Division” I partook in the success of growing black-eye peas and cucumbers. Imagine my chagrin at reading this;
“Previous attempts at diversification failed for a number of reasons, the main one being the alienation problem. The workers who worked in the Other Crops Division of Guysuco were no more than subjugated servants producing tilapia, cheese, milk and yams for managerial staff. They tasted no benefits from their labor (except what they stole). They sabotaged the works and OCD became a liability to Guysuco”.
As for fiscal management, the industry inherited a state of the art Finance Management system. Names like Alan Luck and Sugrim Mohan spring to mind immediately. Institutions like the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund and the Price Stabilization Fund reportedly fell victim to Central Government’s burdensome intervention into the finances of the industry; and to the power wielded by “Coordinators” at estate level.
I am sorry. The demise of the Guyana Sugar Industry has been the culmination of many inflicted cuts (pun intended) that caused the organism to bleed to death.
Yes! The organization is a living organism! Thanks, Irwin Brewster.
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