A noteworthy pioneering venture Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
August 16, 2002

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THE first batch of organic sugar has been successfully produced at the Uitvlugt sugar factory on the West Coast Demerara and according to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), this is history making because this is the first factory in South America to manufacture organic sugar.

In fact, production surpassed the target which was set at 500 tonnes, reaching some 621.58 tonnes.

This indeed is a very encouraging start to the production of organic sugar by the local industry, which is being restructured to meet the challenges that have arisen as a result of the phasing out of the preferential markets in the next four years.

There has been speculation in some quarters that the Demerara sugar estates will be closed, despite several assurances from the Government to the contrary.

The speculation has caused some apprehension and uncertainty in the minds of sugar workers in Demerara.

However, this pioneering venture at Uitvlugt should serve to remove some of the fears and uncertainty from the minds of the workers and instill confidence that there is a future ahead.

Organic foods are becoming increasingly popular with increasing health consciousness throughout the world, notably in Europe.

Guyana, which has the potential, has a great opportunity to become a key player in the international organic market.

And for this gratitude must be paid to Prince Charles and outgoing British High Commissioner, Mr. Edward Glover for their instrumental role in making Guyana aware of its potential in organic agriculture as well as helping it to obtain technical and financial assistance to get a start in this relatively new agricultural domain.

Prince Charles, speaking at an international conference on organic agriculture in March this year in London, was very optimistic about the future of organic agricultural products and their ability to hold their own on the international markets.

"One benefit of the fact that supply is still limited is that organic produce is unlikely to become subject to the commodity-style trading of conventional agricultural export crops.

"Most products go to specific markets through organic traders working closely with the farmer. Furthermore, and this is of particular relevance to the Caribbean, many of the organic products most in demand are imported from tropical countries - tea, coffee, cocoa and rice being particular examples," Prince Charles outlined.

He added: "Organic agriculture is already proving to be an effective system for restructuring in many parts of the world where these traditional cash crops are grown.

"In West Africa and South America there are highly successful organic projects which have turned around small and struggling rural communities. The excellent climate and the rich productivity of the Caribbean islands presents an opportunity to develop the supply of high quality, tropical produce to affluent European markets where demand is set to grow further."

Guyana has already been fairly successful in growing organic cocoa and now a breakthrough has been made with sugar.

These achievements have to be consolidated and converted into large-scale economic successes, particularly the sugar industry which faces huge challenges.

Perhaps this initial success at Uitvlugt can set the stage for the Demerara sugar estates to become the organic sugar capital of the Caribbean and South America.