Agriculture: Challenges in Times of Pandemic

Scheduling medical checkups for the staff, preparing the housing modules to maintain social distance and adapting the logistics of transporting people are challenges that the sugar mills will face during the 2020-2021 harvest.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The sugar cane harvest that is about to begin represents a source of employment for thousands of people in the region and in this context of the propagation of covid-19, the companies will have to face multiple challenges to get the harvest going.

Although all Central American countries are already in the process of reopening their economies and gradually lifting the restrictions imposed on productive activities, the application of hygiene and safety protocols is still in place.

You may be interested in "Crops in Central America: Main Figures in 2018"

In the case of Guatemala, it is expected that sugar production could reach 58 million quintals for the 2020-2021 agricultural cycle. For this harvest, it is estimated that 56 thousand direct jobs and 280 thousand indirect jobs will be generated.

The generation of this number of jobs causes considerable migratory flows. The mobility of this number of people must be managed according to the protocols established by the health authorities.

See "Sugar: Export Price Plummets"

Luis Miguel Paiz, general manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Growers Association (Asazgua), told that "... as part of the changes forced by the pandemic, Fundazucar (the social arm of that sector) has adapted social programs to the needs posed by the new reality, so it has focused its work on training municipal workers, health care providers and community leaders, key players in the prevention of the coronavirus.

The publication outlines the main safety issues of the sugar mills:

  • "The use of more buses for physical distancing, which will be disinfected frequently.
  • The implementation of medical check-ups for workers coming from the highlands.
  • The conditioning of the housing modules for the distancing.
  • The provision of alcohol gel, masks and daily temperature taking, as well as materials for the disinfection of spaces.
  • Working in shifts, to avoid crowding.
  • To have areas for suspicious cases that require quarantine."

All these new costs should be covered by the producers in a scenario of constant low international sugar prices, which have been evident in recent years.

More on this topic

Sugar in Honduras: Loss Forecast

December 2020

Due to the impact of the tropical storms Iota and Eta, businessmen of the sector estimate that for the 2020-2021 harvest about 13% of the sugar cane production will be lost.

According to a report by the Association of Sugar Producers of Honduras (Amah), the rains caused by tropical storm Eta damaged approximately 23,874 hectares of cane, and in the case of Iota, approximately 19,414 hectares were affected.

Labor Market: Revolution and Challenges

July 2020

Faced with the sudden change that the new normal generated in companies, employees are challenged to increase their skills to work remotely, adapt to more flexible contracts and refine their technological skills and cognitive qualities.

Telecommuting has become an everyday occurrence among companies in the region, which have had to adjust to the restrictions imposed by governments due to the outbreak of covid-19.

Safety and Health: Protocols for Companies

May 2020

In order to reactivate economic activity in Panama, Ministry of Health authorities issued strict compliance guidelines for companies and workers.

The guide is aimed at producers, distributors, and consumers; microenterprises, medium-size companies, large companies, and their clients, who are required to comply with the standards established by the health authorities in order to mitigate the expansion of covid-19, the official document details.

Sugar Productivity in Central America

September 2014

Guatemala has reported a productivity of 101.68 tons of sugarcane per hectare, followed by Honduras and El Salvador, reaching levels of 93.47 and 89.94, respectively.

During the harvest from November 2012 - June 2013, Guatemala achieved a productivity of 10.57 tonnes of sugar per hectare (TSH), higher than that achieved by producers neighbors El Salvador and Honduras which achieved TSH of 10.55 and 10,03, respectively.

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