Significant allocations have been proposed for the local agricultural sector in the 2022 National Budget and President Dr. Irfaan Ali says that these investments will lay the foundation for long-term productivity.
The Head-of-State deemed agriculture the “future mainstay” of the Guyanese economy during a virtual briefing on Saturday morning, talking up his government’s plans for the sector.
According to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh- who presented this year’s National Budget on Wednesday last- key investments will be made in the subsectors of sugar, fisheries, rice, livestock and crop cultivation, in addition to much-needed drainage and irrigation.
And President Ali emphasised, “The investment we are making now in these sectors, you will see the full benefits two to three years down the round.
“It lays the foundation for medium to long term opportunities.”
And this thrust, he explained, is part of guaranteeing long-term productivity.
Agriculture has traditionally been a main productive sector for Guyana and though the country is now accumulating significant revenues from the new oil and gas sector, President Ali says that agriculture will not be overshadowed.
In fact, Guyana is leading the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s regional agenda to its food import bill by some 25 per cent by 2025.
But it is not that the country will continue to pursue agricultural production in the traditional sense; instead, President Ali noted that there is a concerted effort being placed in promoting agro-business.
An example of this is the recently launched youth Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme which will be allowing young people to collaborate and tap into the multibillion market for the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots initially.
The President also addressed the $6 billion allocation made for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). This allocation, Dr. Singh had said, will be to support GuySuCo’s ongoing investment in field and factory operations to “turn around the industry” as the country seeks to engage private investor interest also in some of the estates.
Concerns have been raised about the profitability of the sector but President Ali defended this stating that investments into GuySuCo are also contributing to the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.
Importantly, he also explained that these investments are crucial as the government seeks to get local, regional and international investors to buy into the sector.
“… you can’t do so with a dead asset,” he highlighted.
And such private investments, he explained, would diversify the products that the industry generates, create more jobs and increase and expand production.