A range of new agri-tourism activities, with improvements to those that already exist, will soon come on stream amid action to improve the synergy between the agriculture and tourism sectors in Guyana.
This could include but is not limited to farmers’ markets, agricultural tours, and other leisure and hospitality businesses that would attract visitors to the countryside.
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Onedige Walrond on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which seeks to further develop an existing agri-tourism policy in Guyana.
The MoU was birthed from a recommendation that was made during last year’s Agri-Tourism Week.
During the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Agriculture, Minister Mustapha explained that the MoU establishes a shared ambition between the two ministries in an effort to collaborate, coordinate and implement the development of the Agri-Tourism Policy in Guyana.
Minister Mustapha said that agri-tourism acts as a mechanism for diversification and income generation for farmers. This, he said, would be achieved through on-farm activities that would help to maintain the viability of farms and rural communities.
“Guyana has long had one of the largest agricultural economies and a very high potential of becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean.
“Agri-tourism, therefore offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income from on-farm tourism activities in order to help supplement their agricultural income and maintain the viability of farms and rural communities,” Minister Mustapha said.
In 2020, the agriculture sector accounted for 27.1% of Guyana’s non-oil GDP despite the significant impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on the lives of farmers, fishers, vendors of agriculture inputs, and food traders.
Despite the challenges and with the advent of oil, Walrond believes that if managed sustainably, both agriculture and tourism products can co-exist for a long time.
“The agriculture and tourism sectors are of strategic importance to Guyana’s development. Managed sustainably, both our agriculture and tourism products can be with us long after the last barrel of oil is extracted.
“It is, therefore, incumbent on us today to use the opportunity provided by the petroleum bounty to build the foundation of a diversified economy that will persist when that bounty at whatever time must be inevitably be exhausted,” Minister Waldron said.
Country Representative for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Mr. Wilmot Garnett was present at the signing ceremony and lauded the partnership.
He said that in order for the agri-tourism sector to move forward, partnerships and alliances must be built at both the public and private sector levels.
He explained that since 2002, the IICA had a focused programme on Agri-tourism in the Caribbean Region, as part of a larger hemispheric programme in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We have been working to strengthen the capacities, the institutions, the policies and the planning processes necessary to better manage the market value chains, on which the sector depends, and to respond to environmental changes within the sector,” Mr. Garnett said.
Since taking office, the government has signaled its intention to develop Guyana’s agri-tourism industry. Farmers across the country are therefore being encouraged to capitalize on the benefits of agri-tourism as an additional source of revenue and an overall boost to the country’s economy.