One cannot fathom how diverse must be the tasks the Minister of Agriculture must have in his new post as every sector pulls for much needed attention. I truly hope he is surrounded by capable and pro-active staff, as Agriculture is by far the activity that engages most of the private labour force in Guyana.
As he ponders the actions to take towards GuySuCo, he should please consider that this is a perfect time to convert sugar factories into Ethanol producing plants. Very little research is needed to understand that the infrastructure required is very similar to what already exists; therefore the conversion is not as expensive as to install a factory from scratch.
Ethanol has been used in many countries in South America as a main source of fuel for many years very successfully. Different to Gasolene, Ethanol is catalytic with water and act as a cleaning agent; as such a percentage of Ethanol in the gasoline will extend your engine life. No alterations are needed in an engine to work with up to 20% ethanol. A minor computer or carburetor adjustment is required for a gasoline engine to work with 100% ethanol.
Ethanol is also a fully sustainable source of energy.
As for the economics of it, even if its production might cost more than regular gasoline, it is monies that remain in the country. The government could force the fuel dealers to use a percentage of Ethanol and adjust its price in such a way that GuySuCo becomes profitable. It is much less painful to pay a little more for enhanced Gasolene than to see our hard earned tax dollars being flushed away in exporting sugar for a price below its production cost and that Guyana cannot control.
I truly hope the Minister considers this idea, as it would really make a difference in the history and future of our country.
Or, we can always continue producing sugar at a loss and continue begging for grants to the European Union, which they may be a little more adamant to endow since we are becoming an oil producing country exactly at the time that the entire world is trying to tackle CO2 emissions.