Guyana seeking large scale investments in agriculture

Photo by Ryo Yoshitake

Guyana’s President, Dr Irfaan Ali, has said that the country is interested in encouraging large scale investments in food production for export, particularly to CARICOM. Speaking to about 150 potential US investors, he said that the development of the sector and the country’s extensive tracts of productive land was a priority of Government and that it will actively encourage foreign investment in agricultural diversification.

Ali told participants in a webinar organised by the US Department of Commerce that the country was seeking “mega investments” in agriculture. These would be to produce rice, sugar, corn, soya, coconut, spices, and fruits and vegetables, as well as in agro-processing, agrochemicals, the livestock sector, and aquaculture.

Pointing to Guyana’s export potential within CARICOM, he said, by example, that with the right investments Guyana had, the potential to replace the 90% of poultry products worth US$25m that the regional body’s member states presently import.

“Guyana has the potential of satisfying all of CARICOM’s food requirement for poultry products, eggs, beef, aquaculture; we have the land, we have the freshwater but what we don’t have is the investment. What we don’t have are the large-scale megafarms that would allow us to produce, that would allow us to facilitate the type of type of growth that will help us to enter this natural market in CARICOM”, he said.

Continuing, Dr Ali indicated that Guyana would support the creation of the critical infrastructure to enable the future movement of produce from the field to the market or to an export facility. Guyana believed, he said “inherently in the participation of the private sector” in the country’s future growth and development.

Speaking about aquaculture sector, Guyana’s President noted opportunities to develop the CARICOM, US, Mexican and EU markets. There were opportunities, he said, for the local private sector and US investors to develop US market which presently imports over 0.5m tonnes of frozen shrimp and prawns.

Addressing potential investors questions on energy and the cost of electricity, he said that over the medium to long term Guyana would develop an energy mix that will include natural gas, solar and wind and make use of a new energy corridor between Guyana, Brazil and Suriname causing a reduction in costs.

At present agriculture contributes 21.7% of Guyana’s non-oil GDP and exports, provides for about US$370m through exports of traditional agricultural products – rice, fish and, sugar – and a small amount of non-traditional produce. The sector presently employs about 12.1% of the country’s workforce and meets 59% of internal demand.

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