Guyana’s land offer to help push regional food security still on – Head of State
GUYANA’S President Donald Ramotar has maintained that the country’s position in the call for political, entrepreneurial, and popular will to achieve food security in the Caribbean Region still stands.This was made clear by the president during the closing press conference after the 25th CARICOM Heads Inter-Sessional Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines, in which Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of the host country, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Barbados Freundel Stuart and Secretary General of CARICOM Ambassador Irwin LaRocque participated.
Guyana has been described as the potential food basket of the Caribbean, and former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who held responsibility for regional agriculture had made an open offer to all CARICOM countries to take advantage of Guyana’s bountiful agricultural resources. Agriculture remains one of the pillars of development in Guyana and the country has about 3.3 million hectares of available agricultural lands. About 500,000 hectares is being used for rice, sugar and cash crop cultivation.
President Ramotar stated, “The offer is still on the table.” He described the new Santa Fe project in Region 9 as a large investment by Barbados, in which rice is being planted on a large scale. He added also that the Trinidad and Tobago Government has been showing more and more interest in that regard, and indicated that they will take up the offer in order to go into agricultural products.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two countries whereby land will be made available to investors and farmers for agriculture development
The Head of State also outlined Guyana’s plans for looking at new investments for big crops in the southern part of the country, and for building new schemes.
During July 2013, at the University of the West Indies, President Ramotar had commended the Jagdeo Initiative for accelerating development in the agriculture sector of the Region. He had explained that the estimated regional food import bill of between US$3 billion and US$5 billion represents $3 billion worth of business opportunity for Caribbean producers.
“Were the Region able to meet this requirement through domestic production, this would represent billions of dollars of investment in our Region, tens of thousands of jobs for Caribbean people, hundreds of growing and increasingly profitable Caribbean business enterprises, billions of dollars of avoided imports every year, therefore, improving our external balances,” he explained.