Guatemala agrees to help revitalise Guyana’s sugar industry

─ coffee, palm oil production also on the cards

Government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to revitalise the country’s sugar industry. President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, made this clear, Sunday, as he disclosed that Guyana will be working along with Guatemala to make it a reality.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

Dr. Ali said Guatemala is the world’s fourth largest exporter of sugar and the second largest in Latin and Central America. That country’s sugar industry creates 80,000 direct jobs and 410,000 indirect jobs, the President stated.

He was at the time updating the nation by way of a press conference on Guyana’s recent participation at the Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Belize during a press conference at State House.

The President pointed out that Guatemala has 11 sugar mills with a cultivation area of 251,000 hectares yielding 10.7 metric tonnes per hectare, with an export earning of over US$1 billion. This is compared to Guyana’s 49,000 hectares available for sugar yielding about five tonnes per hectare.

“We are going to look at the best practices in Guatemala and Guyana and twin our operations from the management side, the operation side, the investment side, but more importantly, the end result of this is sustainability, job creation, economic expansion and viability of the industry,” President Ali stated.

Government in its commitment to keep the sugar industry alive, allotted $6 billion in budget 2022 to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to turn around the industry’s field and factory operations. The money allotted will be plugged into the Albion, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt factories, and will ensure the industry produces more value-added products for the domestic and international market.

Guyana and Guatemala recently held discussions on the sidelines of the Fourth CARICOM-SICA Summit in Belize. In a joint statement last week, the two countries’ Presidents shared their aspirations to develop broad and effective cooperation for mutual benefit, including in the areas of security, climate change, agriculture and food security.

President Ali said the two countries are finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) adding that in a matter of two weeks Guyana will be finalising an exchange visit and action agenda with Guatemala.

Dr. Ali further pointed out that during the Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government discussions were held on high value commodities that have the potential to be developed in the region. These include palm oil, coconut, spices, cocoa, coffee and hemp.

He said CARICOM spent about US$142 million in 2020 importing palm oil, US$48.5 million in cocoa, and US$9.5 million importing coffee. He said these are markets Guyana could tap into by developing its productive capacity.