Govt invested $15.8B on agriculture & food security in 1st half of 2022

– over $650M spent on other crops, building infrastructure to support farmers

With agriculture and food security receiving as much focus as it does from the Government, the Ministry of Finance Mid-Year report has revealed that $15.8 billion was invested in the agriculture sector for the 1st half of the year.

Last year, farmers lost millions due to floods

The mid-year report shows that out of the $32.6 billion budgeted in the agriculture sector, $15.8 billion was spent. This money was spent on several things, including constructing major infrastructure, procurement of equipment, and capacity building.
Included in this amount are the cash grants farmers received. For instance, over 3000 cash crop farmers received $431.7 million in relief grants. This was to aid in their recovery from the 2021 floods that swept the country and caused millions of dollars in damages.

An example of a shade house

As of June month end, $2 billion went to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), where several initiatives are being undertaken. This includes works that are progressing on packaging plants at Albion and Blairmont.
In the rice sector, over $100 million has been spent to improve rice yields. Additionally, support in pest control has been provided to farmers, while the Agriculture Ministry also marked the milestone of the Value-Added Laboratory becoming operational in March 2022.
“At the end of the review period, 16,277 bags of seeds were produced and of this amount, 13,153 bags of quality seeds were produced at the Burma Rice Research Centre while the remaining 3124 bags were by private seed growers from the No 56 Seed Facility. Research and testing continued in the first half with 6 of the 8 aromatic lines, 10 of the 12 high yielding lines, and 4 of the 16 biofortified zinc lines selected for further testing.”
“Additionally, the Value-Added Laboratory became operational in March 2022 while research on rice and rice products progressed to working with bakeries to commercially produce bread and pastries from rice flour. Further, the completion of the Soil Laboratory was delayed due to the challenges with the supply of equipment for the laboratory owing to the global supply chain crisis,” the mid-year report stated.
According to the report, the Soil Lab is expected to be operational in February 2023. Once operational, it is expected to improve accessibility to soil testing in the rice industry, so that the nutrients required for rice cultivation can be optimised to maximise the production of paddy.
In the first half of the year, $651.9 million of the $1.3 billion budget for the year was spent on supporting other crops. The results of that support include the completion of 109 shade houses, four greenhouses, and the expansion of various spices. The Government is projecting that by year’s end, 62 acres of turmeric and 633 acres of ginger will be in cultivation.
“Further, Government will continue to provide shade house materials to farmers at a reduced cost and increase the distribution of farm equipment, seeds and seedlings, chemicals, and fertilisers. Importantly, the delivery of extension services will be restructured, to provide improved services to farmers,” the report states.
“At the end of the review period, 953 farmers were trained in sustainable agricultural practices. Also, 83 farms were certified to produce wholesome foods and agricultural commodities for export. Another 3602 cash crop farmers received $431.7 million in relief grants to assist with their recovery from the 2021 floods.”
The Government’s focus on agriculture is down to the vision of making Guyana the bread basket of the Caribbean and reducing the regional food import bill. Last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali declared that his Government would be pursuing an aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade and that in the next four years, with the assistance of more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent.