Govt engaging Morocco to bring down fertiliser costs – President Ali
– says major developments expected by July
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket on the global market, a soaring issue for Guyanese is the high cost of fertilisers, which is contributing to major increases in local food production. Guyana imports the majority, if not all, of its fertilisers for the agriculture sector.
However, the Government is not turning a blind eye to this issue and has been actively pursuing ways and means of addressing this matter, including at the bilateral level.
The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is engaging with the North African state of Morocco in an effort to bring down fertiliser costs and, consequentially, the price of agricultural produce.
This revelation was made by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Saturday, while on a visit to the Leonora market. The President was accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd.
Urea and ammonia compounds are said to be the most used fertiliser products in Guyana which imports about 45,000 tonnes annually. President Ali explained that Todd has been working along with the Moroccans, in an effort to bring down fertiliser costs.
“Minister Todd is working on an initiative right now; we’ve been talking to Morocco for a while now to see if we can directly engage them on the issue of fertiliser. We’re having some headways now and by July we should have some positive news,” Ali said.
The Kingdom of Morocco, with its booming phosphorus fertiliser industry, has been described as the world’s gatekeeper of food supply chains. Morocco in fact possesses over 70 per cent of the world’s phosphate rock reserves. Phosphorus, which helps plants to convert nutrients in order to grow, is a major ingredient in commercial fertilisers.
According to the President, helping the small and medium-sized enterprises is a major focus of his Government. President Ali also hailed the producers in the market themselves, as he noted that they themselves have been trying to keep their prices down.
“When you speak to the farmers directly, you hear how they’re trying to maintain the price, they’re not trying to increase the price. And they have difficulties with the price of fertilisers,” the President also said.
Leonora is located in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and it was reported in sections of the media in February that GAICO construction would be building a new, US$6 million fertiliser blending plant.
Guyana meanwhile continues to receive the support of countries within the Caribbean Community (Caricom) as it leads efforts to reduce the region’s high food import bill through the “25 by 2025” initiative.
To this end, the country will be hosting the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) from May 19 to 21 to bring together producers, importers and exporters, investors and other players to promote and improve the region’s productivity and resilience of its agri food systems. The event will be held under the theme: “Investing in Vision 25 by 2025”.
The two principal objectives of the event are matching bankable agricultural projects with available private and public financing, and making potential investors and other stakeholders aware of new and emerging opportunities in Caricom agriculture, including technological and logistical solutions.
It will focus on specific areas in the food value chain including: primary production (farm and field); agro processing (including post-harvesting and marketing); logistics (distribution, shipping, air cargo), and infrastructural development, including in the areas of finance and technology.
Another major stakeholder supporting the efforts towards achieving the 25 by 2025 target is the private sector – both locally and regionally. The Guyana Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, which is plugging funds into this regional initiative, have lauded the upcoming event.
In fact, the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo will also see participation by other Caricom nations including Belize, St Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) and Barbados – all of whom have expressed their support for the Guyana-led 25 by 2025 target.