By Vishani Ragobeer
Access to farmlands, promoting tourism opportunities and supporting young people are among the key efforts towards deepening a ‘win- win’ partnership between Guyana and Barbados.
This is according to President Dr. Irfaan Ali who also beleives that this can become a development model for the wider Caribbean.
The underpinning message as President Ali delivered the feature address at the opening of Barbados’ Agro-Fest on Friday, was that Caribbean countries need stronger ties with each other.
He believes that Guyana and Barbados are already illustrating how those deeper ties can yield significant benefits for the region.
“…We are convinced that once we can show the results of this model, it is a model that can be replicated across the region to create a win-win scenario and position for us,” the Guyanese Head of State told those persons gathered at the Bardados Queen’s Park.
He added, “We cannot see ourselves as competitors.”
Already, the two countries are collaborating on numerous agricultural initiatives in keeping with the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) ambition of cutting regional food imports by 25 per cent by 2025.
With the two countries working together towards this goal, President Ali related that young people from Barbados were in Guyana, benefiting from training on establishing and maintaining shade houses.
In another month’s time, the first tranche of Guyana-made shade houses will be shipped to Barbados and those young people will be tasked with setting them up.
Additionally, the Guyanese Head-of-State announced that 50 acres of land in Guyana will be allocated to young people in Barbados for agricultural purposes.
This comes as Guyana, earlier this year, launched a new youth agriculture and entrepreneurial initiative, wherein young people are producing high-end vegetables in shade houses.
The black belly sheep initiative, where sheep from Barbados are being imported in Guyana, is another key agriculture partnership between the two countries.
Under this initiative, another 50 acres of land, the President said, have been allocated to young people.
While increased food production is key, President Ali reminded the gathering that the two countries are establishing a food terminal that will allow for the easy transport of food between the two countries.
That terminal is also expected to serve as a transshipment point for food exports to other regional and extra- regional territories.
Agricultural initiatives, however, are not the only areas of deepening cooperation between the two countries. Tourism is another area of collaboration.
“We are working on merging our tourism product and we are working on operational efficiency and tourism efficiency by marketing Guyana and Barbados as a singular tourism product.
“We are looking at creating a winning formula for both Guyana and Barbados,” Dr. Ali emphasised.
Though it was previously stated that the two countries will push each other’s tourism products, the President announced that Guyana has offered accommodation to Barbados’ tourism agencies in its Consulate Office in the Brazilian state of Roraima.
Through this arrangement, Barbados would gain access to a large population and attract those people to the eastern Caribbean island.
Effectively, Dr. Ali said, a direct link between northern Brazil and Barbados would be created.
While the two governments are engaged in a raft of initiatives, the Guyanese Head of State also noted that emphasis has been placed on connecting the two countries’ private sectors in a bid to spur mutually beneficial investments.
Meanwhile, in brief remarks, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley backed President Ali’s assertions, sharing her belief that the “time is right” for the two countries to move forward.
She related that the two countries are now also exploring a partnership in prawn and shrimp farming.
She underscored that all the initiatives must be underpinned by action on resolving regional transportation issues and the importation of products.