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Gov’t invites Opposition, Unions to high-level sugar diversification meeting for saturday

Pushing forward with the agenda to diversify, a group of Ministers, including State Minister Joseph Harmon and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, will meet with the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), and some named trade unions to discuss the way forward for Guyana’s ailing sugar industry.

Diversification work has already started at the Wales Estate which ended sugar production a few days ago. “Workers from Wales Estate would be offered jobs at that location” as part of a Rice paddy production project which has already commenced, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder told the press corps today in his ministry’s boardroom.

There was no indication however as to how many workers would be invited into that particular project.

The high-level meeting on saturday would see the involvement of the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), the Guyana Labour Union (GLU), as well as the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE).

Invitations to the Opposition PPP were facilitated by State Minister Joseph Harmon, according to Minister Holder. Demerara Waves News Online reached out to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for comment, but no response has been forthcoming.

Other ministers to attend include Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence; Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan; and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman.

Outside of the proposed rice project, Minister Holder said an aquaculture project is also being examined. Senior GUYSUCO official, Paul Bhim, confirmed that a pre-feasibility study was done on the aquaculture project and an official feasibility study is to be expected.

“Because the aquaculture project hasn’t been finalised as yet because of the requirement of labour and also the rice project will occupy some 220 acres of land,” Bhim said, adding, “there is still some 60 acres to be ploughed.”

Bhim said a provisional estimate shows some 100 employees would be absorbed into the diversification project.

Minister Holder said if nothing is done about GUYSUCO’s current modus operandi, $18B would be required in 2017 and a further $21B in 2018. “It doesn’t get any better going forward so something has to be done,” he said.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Tell the PPP to buy GuySuCo; after all, this its political womb that delivers votes in exchange for weekly wages…forever! I wonder why the PPP never sold GuySuCo to the Chinese or Russians, like bauxite was sold to Chinese and Russians.

    • Col123

      This is serious business EM…politics is the killer… but no foreign dollars in the economy is the coffin!

    • rudeo

      Are we hinting that Indians are involved … so hands off?….What is different about Linden?…..am I sounding a racist here?…..why every shade of opinion has to be labelled with an ethnic tag?….are Afro-Guyanese employed at Wales?……are Indians a hindrance to Guyana moving forward?….Is PPP’s pitch for Indian support an anathema to prudent behaviour?…..why is ACDA and other Afro-oriented organizations correct but PPP is wrong?….why my support for PPP must be seen as anti-Guyanese?

      • Emile_Mervin

        My post started out with “Tell the PPP…” clearly inferring that the focus is on the PPP, which had 23 years to fix sugar, but allowed The Boy to take US$200M and flush it down the drain with Skeldon. Do you have any idea how far US$200M can go towards GuySuCo diversification to save sugar workers’ jobs?
        Yet, sugar workers continue to stupidly listen to the PPP and Jagdeo as though the Coalition is the reason for sugar’s dilemma. Additionally, Europe had been paying the PPP regime millions every year following the cessation of sugar imports from Guyana, but no one knows where the money went.
        There is a great deal of ignorance in the sugar belt, which is why I get angry when folks fail and refuse to see the light! If there is an element of race in my post, it has to do with getting votes and not caring about the long-term welfare of sugar workers. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

  • rs dasai

    Is the Gvt trying to get the Opposition to ‘sanction’ or lend credibility to the demise of Queen Sugah?

    • Col123

      It’s a risk reading into this elephant… the issue at hand is employment for those affected and with further deterioration in the economy. Sugar in the US is subsidized by the state and Feds… I played in a golf tournament at Clewiston days ago and even the sugar folks pitched in with their machinery to upgrade the community course free!..money needs to circulate some how to have these communities survive…

      • Emile_Mervin

        GY$18b this year and GY$21b next year in subsidies…that is unsustainable for a small economy as Guyana’s. It simply pains me that the PPP did not think of the bauxite communities the way you are thinking of the sugar communities. Bauxite communities found ways to survive after being sold to foreign interests, so what makes sugar communities any different?
        The PPP had 22.7 years to fix sugar, but greedy Jagdeo wasted US$200m on Skeldon and sugar workers showed no outrage. But when the Coalition complains that it can’t sustain the status quo, sugar workers, egged on by wasteful Jagdeo, cry and whine. How can sugar workers still support Jagdeo as leader of the PPP? They deserve whatever they get…until they flush that piece of human waste to down the toilet bowl.

        • Col123

          Agree that the amt of subsidy is an eye opener… but even in smaller scale sugar producers as in El Salvador, the government subsidized small cane farmers… there are options for restructuring and centralization of some operations and reduction of the bureaucracy with technology which can reduce overhead etc.The notion that it is a political thorn for a subset of a population is a pill that will suffocate the the economy further…

          • SYL

            Every aspect in society do have a political bearing , but for once this sugar scenario needs a bi-partisan effort to support it for the better of the nation. Change is always difficult but change is a pre-requisite for success. I have 8 acres of sugar cane land in the Wales estate community , but must understand and adapt to change and take the calculated risk for a better future with another product once it comes to such a measure. Its senseless to keep loosing on the same table of life, take the same 18 to 21 B and explore other avenues .Education with a much ” COMMON SENSE” shall always be a winner.

          • Col123

            Point taken… how many livelihoods are affected by your individual operation?.. What at the alternate options for continued use and PROFITABLE production of this land… given the varying challenges- weather… market.. security…opportunities for mechanization..etc..the approach to diversification requires a well thought out approach with retraining of affected citizens and adequate guidance from leaders. You comment implied concerns on your part.. about your welfare…which is why you took the time to write…therefore, multiply that by the amount of others… and therein is the challenge.