Is GuySuCo really in transition, or on the road to destruction?

first_imgGuySuCo has been in the midst of rapid changes since around November 2015, but has this since organisation changed for the better or worse? It is my firm conclusion — after analysing the evidence at my disposal — that this change process has failed because of the high level of incompetence in the boardroom and in the senior head office management.When French novelist Jean-Baptise Karr wrote “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, he was penning an axiom about change management. This troika of destruction that was unleashed on the industry in the form of Noel Holder/Clive Thomas/Errol Hanoman clearly was not focused on the task at hand. Rather than communicating their vision, holding hands with all the stakeholders (especially the workers), and then walking the talk, they did the complete opposite.For the price tag attached to Mr. Hanoman and his predecessor, Mr. Raj Singh, GuySuCo clearly should have been better managed over the last 5 – 7 years. Rather, this period was one of the worst in the history of the sugar industry. Raj Singh and Errol Hanoman did everything else but focus on productivity.The best measure of productivity in the sugar belt is the ratio of the tonnes of sugar produced to the hectares of land planted. As the graph below clearly represents, since the arrival of Raj Singh and Errol Hanoman, it has been a downward slide.GuySuCo experienced, in 2002, a productivity level of close to 8 tonnes of raw sugar from one hectare of land planted. By 2018, even after closure of the allegedly poorly performing estates in the industry, that ratio is now set to fall below 4 tonnes of raw sugar per hectare of cultivation, a decline by almost 100%. This sort of performance has nothing to do with the EU quota system or the market, but everything to do with horrible leadership in the industry.If one were to read Tony Vieira’s commentaries carefully, one would realise that there is a secret to the turnaround in the sugar belt, and it is not rocket science. So I clearly cannot understand why the agriculture executives in the Granger Government just cannot get it. The secret is how you approach the issues around the land and the cultivation. But all we have gotten from Clive Thomas and his crew (thank the Lord he is now history in the sugar belt) were hours upon hours of boardroom gymnastics.Why couldn’t these people have just rolled up their sleeves and walked the cane fields to better understand the level of destruction in the cultivation?For sugar to become commercially profitable, or at least break even, it requires a deep understanding of how to implement an entire project plan around when to rest the land, when to plant the land, when to harvest the crop, and when to grind it. For centuries, sugar planters have mastered this body of knowledge, so it is almost like second nature to people in the sugar belt.What Thomas and Friends did not get was the art and science of the ratoon. I am advised that the ratio of the maiden ratoon should be around 1:5. In layman’s language, that means about 16% percent of the land should at all times be under a maiden crop, 16% under flood fallowing/resting, and the remainder under growing crops at different stages. Every year, at least about 16% of the land should have been taken out of production for resting, and 16% should have been re-planted with fresh ratoons. This is what our fore-parents did for centuries, so why was this practice discontinued?Since Hanoman took over GuySuCo, several key steps at ratoon management dropped. Not enough new planting material was acquired and utilized; there was less monitoring of the husbandry practices in the field, as many field managers migrated into cell phone managers, with no consequences from the top.Additionally, because of massive corruption in the industry around procurement of fuel, fertilisers, and agro-chemicals, nutritional mismanagement became the norm, rather than the exception.Then there was, between senior management and the private contractors, massive corruption around the drainage and irrigation contracts. As I said, what goes around must come around.Turning around GuySuCo is not impossible, but it requires top quality project management. You must build a better relationship with the sugar unions; zero-in on yield management; make cost control the highest priority; and, most importantly, manage the cash flows like every cent mattered. This is what Hanoman failed to do when he had his hand on the levers.Because of what happened mainly during the tenure of Raj Singh and Errol Hanoman, GuySuCo, in 2018, is clearly on the road to destruction. There is only one way to stop this decline – focus on the sugar productivity issue in the field.last_img read more