Guyana has advanced its method of packaging sugar in a direction that guarantees the attraction of a premium price on the international market, with the commissioning of the US$12.5M packaging plant at Enmore, East Coast Demerara today.
The tradition of exporting raw sugar ended when Guyana began producing some 8,000 tonnes of packaged sugar but with the new factory in operation, production varieties range from a scale of 1000 kilograms (kg), 50 kg and 25 kg for the bulk supply.
The ‘Project Gold' Enmore Packaging Plant, located in close proximity to the Enmore Factory, is a significant component of the modernisation plan for the industry that will see packaged sugar output expand towards 40,000 tonnes and ultimately 80,000 tonnes in later years.
It comes with a warehouse, which boasts an automated packaging facility, packaging machinery such as continuous vertical crystallizer, syrup clarifier, molasses conditioner, large sugar dryer and sugar processing equipment.
Construction started in 2009 by Surendra Engineering Company, a reputable construction company from India operating on sugar factories in Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, United States of America and in Caribbean countries.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud described the commissioning of the facility as the fulfillment of government's commitment to address the challenges in the sugar industry locally and externally.
“What we see here is a road map and a vision of where we want to take this industry, an industry where we are putting a lot of emphasis on value added,” Minister Persaud said.
Stakeholders in the sugar industry including dedicated sugar workers and management of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) attended the milestone event in large numbers today.
Among them were GuySuco's Chairman Nanda Gopaul, Directors Donald Ramotar and Keith Burrowes, Chief Executive Officer Paul Bhim and Managing Director of Surendra Engineering Corporation, Surendra Parikh.
President Bharrat Jagdeo who delivered the feature address at the commissioning ceremony hailed the contributions of all stakeholders in the industry and acknowledged the significant role the sugar industry continues to play.
The industry contributes 16 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is the means of livelihood for about 17 percent of Guyana's population which directly or indirectly depend on the commodity.
President Jagdeo assured of government's commitment to the industry noting that it is reflected in its investment in the Skeldon sugar factory which he continues to tout as the largest single investment ever made by the Government.
“We have kept the sugar industry in Guyana alive when industries in the rest of the world including in the Caribbean are failing. St Kitts, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago are out of sugar because of the difficulties that we have faced in the past,” President Jagdeo said.
The new Enmore packaging plant is considered a successful effort to add value to Guyana's sugar which President Jagdeo said was lacking because of being exported in raw form in the past while transnational corporations elsewhere reaped a market premium for the product.
President Jagdeo however, did not speak with complacency as he continued to implore a continued commitment on the part of the workers and the management of the company.
“The future is not going to be without hard work if we want this industry to survive. We all have to play a bigger role… we can't survive if the turnout is 43 percent across the industry as we had last week. We can't survive if the managers we entrust to lead the industry don't see this industry as theirs,” President Jagdeo said.
The “unnecessary burden” of rumours sugar workers hear was also cited by the President who clarified that while tough decisions have to be made to keep the industry alive, there is not intention of the government to shut down the industry.