Agriculture in Region Six, more so Black Bush Polder, is set to benefit from several major developmental investments with the establishment of a privately owned processing facility at Mibicuri.
Last Saturday, Ministers of Agriculture and Finance, Zulfikar Mustapha and Dr. Ashni Singh met with residents of Black Bush Polder and told residents about several planned developmental projects to propel agriculture in the Region.
During a meeting with farmers and residents at the Mibicuri Primary School, on the Corentyne Coast, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh told residents that government is in discussion with a private investor who has signaled an interest to establish a state of the art processing facility in the area.
“For a long time in Guyana, agriculture has been our primary production. We cultivate our crops, we harvest them and we sell them in a raw form. We haven’t been able to move from selling basic primary unprocessed agriculture commodities in a processed form, which is the most value–added form. You have crops like peppers, for example, if you sell peppers you get the price for peppers. If you were able to process the peppers into pepper sauce or spices or condiments and package it nicely, you’ll get a better price for it. Similarly, fruits. Fresh fruits are good but they have a limited shelf life. We, as a government, believe very strongly that we must be at a point where we’re able to produce not just fresh fruits and vegetables, not just primary agricultural outputs, but also value–added production. Recognizing how important this is, we’ve said very clearly that we are open to working with any private sector individual who is willing to get into that line of activity. We are already at an advanced stage of conversation with potential investors in a processing plant. They have an interest in setting up such a plant in Mibicuri to engage in value–added processing of primary produce like cash crops, into nicely processed and packaged products for which you’ll get better prices,” Dr, Singh said.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha also told residents that, in addition to the processing facility, his ministry will be constructing a packaging facility to assist farmers and agro-processors with properly packaging their produce.
“In our 2021 budget, allocations were made for the construction of a lot of those facilities. This year we are going to be constructing about six of those facilities. One is earmarked for Berbice. We are looking at the strategy because if we have private investors in Black Bush, we’d initially earmarked Talorgie for the packaging facility but we are thinking about moving it further down the Corentyne so we can service both Regions Five and Six. From Rosignol to Abary, we have a lot of cash crop farmers. On the East Bank of Berbice, we also have a lot of farmers. So we are considering establishing the facility in Bath, Fort Wellington, or New Amsterdam,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha further stated that with the establishment of such facilities, the government intends to tap into markets in the diaspora given the demand for Guyanese commodities. He also informed residents that Cabinet recently gave it no objection to the construction of two such facilities in Region Nine and that his ministry is working to have the packaging facility in Parika rehabilitated. This he said will be operated through a Public-Private Partnership.
The two Ministers will be returning to the area to conclude discussions with the investor. Once those consultations are complete, construction of the processing facility is expected to commence soon after. (Ministry of Agriculture press release)