$22.6B to be pumped into agricultural sector

In a bid to ensure Guyana is well poised to claim its long outstanding position as the food basket of the Caribbean, the Government intends to pump $22.6 billion into the local agriculture sector.
In outlining some ways in which the funds will be expended, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh revealed that six drying floors will be constructed at strategic rice-producing locations to provide much-needed support to rice farmers. He noted too that a soil laboratory will be established to facilitate efficient and economic production of paddy.
Additionally, he said five sprayers will be acquired to control paddy bugs on dams and fields efficiently; a motorised thresher will be purchased to aid in plant breeding experiments, and a laboratory will be constructed for experimental trials on value-added rice products.
Noting that research-based extension support will be intensified for fruit production to improve productivity and meet the growing demand of domestic fruit juice manufacturers, the Finance Minister said $1.2 billion is budgeted to support the operations of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).

New frontier crop
Highlighting that coconut is the new frontier crop, Dr Singh said the PPP/C Administration will fund the establishment of four new coconut nurseries at Wakenaam, Leguan, Canal No 2 and No 63 Village in Corentyne which will each produce 1500 to 3000 coconut seedlings, every three months. Budget 2021 also provides over $70 million to support Hope Coconut Estate Ltd.
The Finance Minister went on the point out that corn and soya bean also represent a major new frontier in the “other crops sector”. As such, he said in 2021, Government will cultivate 100 acres of planting material to support the production of corn and will make it available to farmers at affordable prices.
Some $832 million will be invested in agricultural infrastructure including agro-processing and packaging facilities. These interventions will be done in Lesbeholden, Parika, Sophia, St Ignatius, Aranaputa, Kara Kara and the Intermediate Savannahs. This will allow farmers to have access to affordable state-of-the-art processing and packaging at reduced operational costs.
In addition, two freezer trucks and two 40-foot refrigerated containers will be procured at a cost of $60 million for the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC). An additional $293 million is being provided to New GMC to support initiatives such as the one-stop Agri-Business Incubator, through which equipment and human resources will be made available to provide technical and marketing support to agro-processors.
Meanwhile, $806 million will be provided to the Guyana Livestock Development Authority in 2021. Of this amount, Government will invest in a modular abattoir at Garden of Eden which will serve to fill the existing local market gap for processed pork and pork products while creating more income-generating opportunities. Further, the construction of a modern abattoir at Onverwagt for beef and beef products will transform the cattle industry.
Regarding fisheries, the Finance Minister revealed that $293 million is budgeted to support the growth of this emerging industry.
Meanwhile, Dr Singh noted that in 2021, the PPP/C Administration is reaffirming its commitment to supporting the drainage and irrigation systems by investing $12 billion in critical interventions across the country.
These include the construction and rehabilitation of pump stations at Adventure, Black Bush Polder, Cottage and Montrose, supporting over 54,000 acres of coastal farmlands; procurement of two excavators and a pontoon to desilt channels in the Pomeroon River, facilitating improved access to farms; and development of water harvesting mechanisms to support farms in the South Central Rupununi, alleviating the significant losses incurred in the dry season. (G11)