The Guatemalan Sugar Industry creates first mechanical respirator to help patients affected by COVID-19

On July 30th, in a virtual press conference, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry presented the prototype of the first mechanical respirator designed and manufactured in Central America, which has the capacity to assume up to 100% of respiration or provide partial assistance to a patient with lung deficiency.

Faced with the health emergency caused by the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, in addition to contributing with donations to the authorities, has promoted and supported projects focused on finding solutions to face this critical situation.

The Guatemalan Sugar Association – ASAZGUA – also announced the donation of 35 mechanical respirators to the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, which will be financed by the Guatemalan sugar mills to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and when the pandemic ends, will be for use of future patients. By august those respirators will be at the Guatemalan hospitals.

Design and development process

The impact of COVID-19 in Guatemala, as in other countries, has caused a shortage of supplies and of medical equipment for hospital care. For this reason, the project for the development of the first mechanical respirator created in Guatemala was born, led by Engineer Edwin Delgado, Automation Superintendent of La Union Sugar Mill, who has 25 years working in the company.

Delgado, along with other experts, decided to take on the challenge of creating respirators to save Guatemalan lives. In March, with the approval and support of the managers of La Union Sugar Mill, the project began, which consisted on the design, development and creation of the first mechanical respirator for intensive care produced in Guatemala, to be called: Joaquin 1.0.

For this task, a group of professionals from La Union and other sugar mills met and together created pieces, developed software, and developed electronic systems. Physicians and pulmonologists also participated in this process, who contributed their experience and knowledge in this type of equipment.

Meet Joaquin 1.0

Joaquin 1.0 is a sophisticated respirator with digital displays that will bring oxygen to the lungs of people who are fighting for their lives and has the ability to take up to 100% of their breath or provide partial assistance to the patient.

This respirator is more efficient than the use of a mask or other devices, by exerting enough pressure to keep the lungs open, preventing their collapse, and thus improving the passage of oxygen to the blood. People affected by acute respiratory problems and now with COVID-19 need such devices for hours or days, and in some cases, their need can extend to weeks or even months.

These devices are shortage worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why the Joaquin 1.0 respirator will be vital to keep patients who cannot breathe on their own due to the serious damage the virus causes to the lungs alive.

The respirator has a computerized control system that is in charge of controlling all aspects of breathing, in addition, it has a screen to present the graphics to the doctors that allows them to determine the best treatment that the patient requires. Many of the internal systems are redundant, backed by critical measurements, which ensure the life of the patient.

Also, the system has self-diagnosis with which it self-evaluates guaranteeing its operation. It also has an alarm system whose parameters are established by the doctor, and the respirator is responsible for monitoring that the patient does not leave these parameters.

A mechanical respirator that was born
in the heart of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

Joaquin 1.0 was born in the heart of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, in the workshops of La Union Sugar Mill. The Guatemalan Sugar Association – ASAZGUA-, from the beginning has believed in this project, for this reason it financed the purchase of 89 valves made in Germany for the construction of the first respirators, which are the engine for the operation of said equipment.

Álvaro Ruiz, General Manager of the La Union Sugar Mill and Vice President of the Guatemalan Sugar Association -ASAZGUA- stated: “We are committed to Guatemala and therefore we do not hesitate to support this initiative. We have given Eng. Delgado the support, time, human resources, equipment and supplies to facilitate the process. We are very proud of what we are achieving.”

The respirator has already been tested with certified lungs, it is in the third phase, controlled trials with patients are expected next week. The joint effort of sugar mills, the Technical Institute for Training and Productivity –Intecap- and the company Fogel will be used in the production of these equipment.

“For me it is a personal satisfaction because the objective is being achieved, after the effort of several months of hard work in research and development. I am grateful to all the people who have supported with good disposition and in a disinterested way, concerned about the common good, giving life expectancy”, said Delgado. Regarding the name of the fan, the expert said: “It has been named in this way in honor and memory of my little angel Joaquincito“.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry
maintains its commitment to Guatemala

The president of the Guatemalan Sugar Association -ASAZGUA-, Alfredo Vila, announced the donation of 35 mechanical respirators to the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, which will be financed by the Guatemalan sugar mills to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and when the pandemic ends, they will remain for use by future patients.

“We support this effort because we believe in the capacity of our people and because it is part of our commitment to the well-being of Guatemalan families, to contribute to the efforts of helping people in these difficult times”, Vila said.

During the emergency by COVID-19, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has made a series of contributions to the authorities, focused on confronting the situation, among them the donation of Q7.64 million for the equipment of the Campaign Hospital at the South of Guatemala, the usufruct of the land was also granted for the installation of said hospital. Likewise, more than 110 thousand pounds of sugar were donated for the “Saldremos Adelante” kit, which was delivered to 200 thousand families in vulnerable situations.

Press contact: ldiaz@azucar.com.gt

 

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry donates land for a new Hospital

 

Aware of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on Guatemala; one more time, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry stand in solidarity and unite in support of Guatemalans. Knowing the need for a new hospital on the South of the country, they handed over the Government’s disposal a land of 10,000 square meters located in a strategic point with multiple entrances, so that it could be installed there.

The land is located 92 km from the capital of the country, in the municipality of Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, department of Escuintla in the south of the country. This is part of the experimental area of ​​the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane –Cengicaña-.

“Contributing to the Government’s efforts to serve the population in these difficult times is part of our commitment as a guild with the well-being of Guatemalan families, mainly on the south of Guatemala, where our people are,” said Luis Miguel Paiz, CEO of Asazgua.

Guatemalan Sugar industry donates 110,231 pounds of sugar to families in need

 

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry donated 110,231 pounds of sugar in solidarity with families affected by the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The sugar was handed through the Guatemalan Sugar Association -Asazgua- to the authorities, and was part of the food boxes that the Government is delivered to Guatemalans as part of its strategy against the global pandemic.

This support is in addition to the 1 million USD donation, made last March 21st, to acquire medical equipment that will enable the temporary Hospital to be installed on the South of Guatemala, in order to be prepared in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are committed to supporting Guatemalans at this difficult time, which is why we contributed to the Government’s efforts to serve the population, and we continue to produce sugar and electricity under strict security measures,” said Luis Miguel Paiz, CEO of Asazgua.

We reiterate the call to Guatemalans to be united and take care of each other to get over this, we must follow the instructions issued by the Government to deal with this global emergency.

This is a critical moment and requires of all of us to be united to overcome it.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry stand in solidarity with health workers

 

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is aware of the need to provide aid to health workers who are on the front line in the fight against COVID-19, that is why the sugar mills that produce alcohol donated thousands of gallons of this supply to the Guatemalan’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance.

In addition, as it must be a comprehensive effort, gallons of alcohol were also delivered to municipal authorities. This is to contribute with the efforts to disinfect and prevent the spread of the virus.

Ingenio Palo Gordo, focused its proposal to support the health units of the South of Guatemala, with more than 10,000 gallons of alcohol reduced to 70% for the use of hand disinfection and surface cleaning. Alcohol is being distributed in the Health Directorates of  the departments of Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu, Escuintla, Santa Rosa and Jutiapa.

Ingenio Magdalena, donated 10,000 liters of alcohol to hospitals and municipalities, and Grupo Pantaleón donated 10,000 gallons of 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect hospital areas and hands.

One of the by-products of sugar production is alcohol. Guatemala exports 100% of the alcohol it produces to countries such as the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Sugar mills donate US$1 million to equip hospital to face the Covid-19 pandemic in the south of Guatemala

 

In the face of the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Guatemalan sugar mills show solidarity and donated 1 million USD to equip the temporary hospital to be installed on the South  of Guatemala.

These resources will be used to acquire medical equipment that will enable the temporary Hospital to be installed on the South Coast in order to be prepared for the medical care of people in the face of the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Contributing to the Government’s efforts to serve the population in these difficult times is part of our commitment as a sector with the well-being of Guatemalan families. Likewise, we continue to produce sugar, under strict security measures, so that it is not lacking of this essential product in homes and energy to continue lighting Guatemala”, said Vila.

Asazgua made a call on all Guatemalans to unite and take care of each other following the instructions issued by the Government to deal with this global emergency. This is a critical moment and requires of all the world to be united to overcome it.

The sweetest season begins in Guatemala

 

The sugar mills in Guatemala began the Zafra season 2019/20 which means that sugarcane is harvested for the production of sugar, energy and alcohol for seven months, during which time 1.8 million people benefit with the jobs generated by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry

Zafra promotes economic recovery in the South of Guatemala, due to the generation of jobs and the hiring of thousands of suppliers of products and services, who also become employers and multiply the opportunities for the local population. During the recent Zafra (2018/19), 56,000 direct and 280,000 indirect jobs were generated.

The sugar mills part of the Guatemalan Sugar Association–Asazgua- operate under a strict labor policy and distribute each year around US$400 million in wages and salaries, in addition to programs to provide health, entertainment and food services to their collaborators. In a study by the Sugar Association, the sugar footprint of Guatemala reaches all the regions of the country.

In Guatemala there are 11 sugar mills for the production of sugar, and also they generate renewable energy, which during the previous Zafra covered up to 31% of the national demand. They also produce alcohol that is mainly exported to the United States and Europe.

During the 2018/19 harvest, 2.9 million metric tons of sugar were produced, of which 70 percent was exported to 58 countries in the world. These exports, added to those of alcohol and molasses, represent 7 percent of the country’s exports, according to figures from the Bank of Guatemala (Central Bank). For this year the production projection is maintained.

Guatemala is the second sugar exporter in Latin America and the fourth worldwide; Guatemala also has the third place in productivity worldwide with respect to obtaining sugar per hectare cultivated.

The Guatemalan Sugar Sector joins the UN efforts to promote global water and energy sustainable practices

Guatemala, through the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association – Asazgua, was one of the founding members of the United Nations Global Network: Sustainable Water and Energy Practices”, along with other public organizations and academia, which seeks to be a platform to share knowledge and share experience on possible solutions around water and energy, leaded by the UN.

The initiative started on March and seeks to promote compliance of Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 7 (water and energy respectively), during an initial period of four years.

“Through this platform, we will not only be able to share better practices, but also propose solutions based on technical knowledge and experience. Both of which, in this case, are broadened tremendously due to the rich participation in this group of: Governments, Multilateral Organizations, other UN Agencies, Academia and the Private Sector”, said Luis Miguel Paiz, General Manager of Asazgua.

Capacity building, dialogue and cooperation will be the way to address water and energy stakes to achieve sustainable development. Through this platform, barriers and opportunities will be identified, to therefore propel key actions, such as sharing knowledge and better practices, as well as the implementation of specific and innovative measures.

Other activities include an inventory of priority needs, already-existing efforts from the members, workshops to develop projects, policies, financing, innovation, technology and monitoring.

Countries from Africa, Arab States, Asia, Europe and Latin America will share their practices and promote knowledge and technology transfer through an information-sharing network.

“We firmly believe that Water and Energy are essential for Development and that by working together, we can achieve greater results”, added Luis Miguel Paiz. Asazgua will share knowledge with the support of the Guatemalan Institute for Research on Climate Change (ICC).

What the Guatemalan Sugar Mills do to save water?

Eleven sugar mills produce sugar in Guatemala, and all of them have implemented measures to reduce the use of water according to their capacity; enabling them to be more efficient and environmentally sustainable.

As part of its commitment to make a rational use of water, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry works along with communities, authorities and other water-users to coordinate the use of water in the main rivers of the South Coast, the area in which all of them operate. “We understand that water is a common good, and everyone is allowed to make a rational use of it” explained Luis Miguel Paiz, General Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association – ASAZGUA-.

“As sugar producers, we are aware that the impact of climate change and other climate events, such as El Niño Southern Oscillation, affect the availability of water all around the world, therefore affecting big cities, communities and agricultural producers”, he added.

 

Water-saving practices:

  • Sugarcane is a low-water-requiring crop:                                 

About 20% of the sugarcane area is not irrigated, whereas the other 88% is mainly rain-fed and a small amount is irrigated. This means that each land-plot is being irrigated 2 to 3 times a month through mobile irrigation systems.

  • Sugarcane that uses even less water

Scientists at the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training on Sugarcane (referred to by its Spanish acronym Cengicaña) have developed 21 new and improved sugarcane varieties by crossbreeding, which need less water and contain more sugar.  

  • Irrigation technologies

Sugar mills use high-technology programs that shows them exactly how much water each sugarcane land-plot needs, preventing the waste of water. Also, irrigation systems that imitate rainfall have been adopted.

  • Rational use of water

Enterprises, authorities and communities all the way from Santa Rosa to Retalhuleu, have organized themselves to make a rational use of water, so the river flow reaches the sea.

  • Dry wash of sugarcane

By using a vibration system, some sugar mills avoid using water to wash sugarcane.

  • Water outlets

For thousands of years, human beings have used water to carry out agricultural activities. Nowadays in Guatemala, water from the rivers is used by communities, municipalities and agricultural producers. Sugar mills get the water from the rivers by using controlled water outlets without interrupting the river course.

  • New forests 

Sugar mills are endowed with forest areas covering 12 thousand hectares. They additionally have planted over 4 million trees since 2011 for the adequate management of watersheds.

  • Reuse of water

Water used by the sugar mills for the production of sugar is treated to be reused during the factory process, therefore saving water.

  • Wastewater treatment

At the end of the sugar production process, residue waters are treated and later used to irrigate. Through this process, sugarcane producers comply with the Ministry of Environment and National Resources’ Regulation 236-2006, that legislates discharge and reutilization of waste waters.

  • Water from Sugarcane

Around 70% of sugarcane is water, and the Sugar Mills make use of it during the production process.

 

Water is an essential element to achieve sustainable development. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is completely aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially with the SDG 6, which looks to ensure water and sanitation for all.

“Adapting to climate variations is one of the greatest challenges we must face, therefore we are investing in technology and looking to adopt new sugarcane cultivation and sugar production practices that require less water. Every sugar mill is implementing actions according to its capacities”, explained Luis Miguel Paiz.

 

The Guatemalan Sugar Mills have cooling towers to lower the temperature of the water after it´s used at the factory and in that way it can be used again in the process of making sugar.

 

By using a vibration system, some sugar mills avoid using water to wash sugarcane.

 

Irrigation systems that imitate rainfall have been adopted to save water.

 

Guatemala starts Harvest Season 2018-2019

Thousands of workers began their jobs at the Guatemalan sugar mills.

Guatemala November 6, 2018. Today, the sugar mills Magdalena and Madre Tierra began operation, marking the beginning of the 2018-2019 sugarcane harvest season in Guatemala; known locally as “Zafra” the sugar production that will last six months.

For the people living at the South of Guatemala, the Zafra is synonymous with economic reactivation since every year the Guatemalan Sugar Industry generates more than 80 thousand direct and 410 thousand indirect jobs, in addition to the hiring of thousands of suppliers of products and services, who also generate more jobs.

The sugar mill are members of the Guatemalan Sugar Association -Asazgua- and they operate under a strict labor policy and distribute every year the equivalent to US$400 million in wages, in addition to providing their employees with additional health, entertainment and food services. The Guatemalan Sugar Sector generates 5 percent of all formal jobs in the country.

There are 11 sugar mills operating in the process of making sugar in Guatemala, they are in the south region of the country in the departments of Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Suchitepéquez and Retalhuleu. In adition to producing sugar they generate renewable electric energy, which during the harvest covers up to 32% of the national demand. They also produce alcohol that is exported mainly to the United States and Europe.

During the 2017-2018 harvest season, 2 million 752 thousand 575 metric tons of sugar were produced, of which 70 percent was exported to more than 70 countries in the world. This exports represent 9 percent of the country’s total exports, according to figures from the Guatemalan Central Bank. This year the projection is that the production will remain similar.

Guatemala is the second largest exporter of sugar in Latin America and the fourth in the world; Guatemalan Sugar also has the third place in productivity worldwide with respect to obtaining sugar per hectare cultivated.