Govt opens up 35,000 acres of land in Reg 6 for small farmers

The Government of Guyana has earmarked some 35,000 acres of land across Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) to be cultivated and a 10-member Committee has been established to determine the feasibility of the crops to be planted.
The committee will be working along with the Agriculture and Finance Ministries , and regional authorities in Berbice to decide on which crops can be cultivated, according to Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo.
He made this decision during a meeting he hosted with farmers in the region to examine how the Government could assist them with the venture, according to the Department of Public Information (DPI). It was noted that this initiative was expected to create employment for approximately 3000 persons in the region.
The meeting, which was held in the Conference Hall of the Classic Hotel, Corentyne, saw a number of farmers in attendance.
This move is in keeping with a commitment made by the Vice President about a month ago when he spearheaded an outreach in the region.
One of the crops being considered for cultivation is hemp, which VP Jagdeo said could be beneficial to small farmers.
Only recently, the hemp cultivation legislation was tabled in the National Assembly. The Government has already made known its plan to venture into value-added hemp production, which is a multibillion-dollar industry that would create thousands of jobs.
Other small crops and aquaculture are also being considered for these lands.
Region Six was hardest hit when the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government closed several Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) estates, causing more than 7000 sugar workers to lose their jobs.
This initiative forms part of the Government’s co-investment programme which will see partnerships with the Private Sector to create employment opportunities.
The Vice President disclosed another plan to utilise GuySuCo lands for the production of sugar on a smaller scale.
He also said some of the leases that state that only sugar cane could be cultivated on the land would have to be revised to reflect the objective of the venture. The Finance Minister, the VP noted, will look into this.
Government is also keen on providing support to the co-ops and ensuring the members benefit equitably.
The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will also be looking into the drainage system to ensure maximum production, as the intention is to export the produce on a large scale.
Further, the VP addressed several other concerns raised by the farmers. He committed to providing fertiliser and planting tools to some farmers.
He was accompanied by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall, officials from the NDIA and the regional administration.