Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder in his contribution to the 2016 Budget Debate revealed that the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) and the Government were examining aquaculture, crop farming and dairy and livestock as ventures to take place at Wales. Shortly prior to the Minister’s revelations, GuySuCo’s Chairman in the February 07, 2016 edition of Stabroek News is reported to have said the Corporation was examining getting into the production of alcohol and to provide lands to workers for them to engage in farming. The views from these two (2) authoritative persons vary somewhat and more significantly they give credence to the widely-held notion that the decision to close Wales Estate was hastily made and not well thought-out.
What one gathers from these revelations is that there are no credible plans at this time and that presently the relevant studies are now being undertaken. It is numbing to realize that GuySuCo’s Board Chairman and the Minister of Agriculture could have pursued a decision that would put at risk the livelihoods of thousands of our working people without the necessary critical investigation done.
At this time a relevant question arises:- What would be the position if it turns out that the identified ventures are not viable? Such a question is even more appropriate if we recall that GuySuCo in the not-too-distant past has experimented with similar ventures with discouraging results. These is a tendency to forget that projects while seemingly worthwhile on paper and in the board rooms were found so often to be wanting in implementation and in practice.
The Union is of the view that Guyana, unlike many countries, has sufficient suitable areas to pursue diversification in the areas which we are told are now being studied.
Wales Sugar Estate, we reiterate, is capable of surmounting its present challenges. In our presentation to the Sugar CoI that, at this time, to emerge from the present situation, the Union subscribes to the view that the Industry must be re-organized to firstly increase efficiency followed by sustained policies to engage stakeholders as well as modernization to transition it from the concept of a “Sugar” Industry to a “Sugar Cane” Industry in which the entire sugar cane plant is used to produce many other products apart from sugar to bolster its revenue stream.
Having learnt of the un-coordinated approach from the two quarters, GAWU remains unconvinced that we are heading in the right direction regarding Wales Estate. The Union is convinced that the right, caring, pro-worker thing to do is to reverse the decision for closure and instead to seek together with the stakeholders a workable plan for the Estate to overcome its difficulties.