Govt working to reignite coffee, expand coconut industries in Pomeroon
– more excavators for Reg 2 to aid in development
The Guyana Government is looking to attract investors to enhance agricultural production in the Pomeroon region. The focus is on long-term, high-value products such as coffee, coconuts and citrus, and there is need to explore new industries, such as cocoa.
This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali while addressing farmers and other residents at Marlborough and Hackney, Pomeroon River communities, during an outreach to Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on Thursday. He was accompanied by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, along with other officials.
The Head of State indicated that his Government wants to promote sustainable and resilient agriculture, and this will see special initiatives being undertaken across the country.
“One of the projects we were working on for Pomeroon is to see how we can get big investors with huge capital to come work with the small farmers, because we want to reignite the coffee industry and expand the coconut and citrus industry…so that the Pomeroon can be an important export location for these three important commodities, including cocoa. We’re now doing some research on cocoa,” Ali stated.
According to Ali, there is tremendous potential in Pomeroon to establish a large-scale local coffee industry for regional and international markets. He noted that of the three main types of coffee beans used around the world, the Pomeroon is home to the liberica bean, called ‘elephant bean’, which accounts for only two per cent of the world’s coffee production.
“The coffee industry is a high-value industry, and I think we have tremendous potential for the Pomeroon…I don’t know if you know, but the Pomeroon produces liberica… There is a tremendous possibility in us reviving the coffee industry,” he posited.
While acknowledging that these crops take time, and that farmers would need a more sustainable option to cater to their day-to-day earning needs, the Government is also looking into finding high-value crops that can be done under the shade house initiative.
“[We want to] help the small farmers to at least have the shade house that is not subject to the harshness of the weather or flooding. And under those shade houses, we do high-value crops that can give you consistent incomes to support yourselves and expand your own families and prospects,” the President noted.
He further outlined that his Government is serious about helping the people and farmers of the Pomeroon. In fact, he disclosed that his Administration took office in 2020, and it has spent over $2 billion on agricultural development in the Pomeroon.
Another initiative that the Government is carrying out in the Pomeroon is elevating the level of farmlands to protect against flooding. At least 550 farmers in Pomeroon will benefit from these works, according to Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha. Each farmer will have at least five acres of their land raised.
During an engagement with the farmers, it was suggested that equipment – such as excavators that have been delivered to the region for this initiative – be made available to farmers who do not want to raise their lands, but have other drainage works to be done.
“I see absolutely no difficulty if the same effort that is required for [elevating] five acres is used to improve the drainage for an entire area…once it does not exceed the [time and resources as] five acres.
“From day one, I’ve been allowing farmers to decide what your priorities are…and that is what we’re working with,” the President has said.
Two long-reach excavators and a pontoon valued at $144 million have already been delivered to the region. Additionally, two smaller excavators are being repaired by the State and will be available to farmers for usage.
President Ali disclosed that, in the next budget, the Government will make provisions to acquire two more excavators for the region, to aid in the development of agriculture.
To further assist with blocked drainage and desilting of canals in the Pomeroon, tenders have gone out, and will close by this month’s end. However, other works are ongoing to dredge the Pomeroon River. One farmer pointed out that once dredging works are done, it will bring “tremendous benefits” to farmers, both upriver and downriver.
To get an update on these works, President Ali contacted the contractor via cellphone, and he provided an update on the dredging.
“We’ve already dredged all the way out to the junction at the mouth of the river, and gone out into the ocean front… We want to mobilise the Cutter Head to do a little bit more widening of the channel, so we’re hoping to do that by mid of next week [and have] the cutting edge to be in the middle of the Pomeroon,” the contractor explained.
The Head of State has cautioned that Government would not tolerate any delays in these works. “We’re investing in these things so that your lives can be better…and we’re not going to tolerate slothfulness from anyone,” the President declared.
This is the third time that President Ali has travelled to the area to meet with farmers and residents. He also addressed a number of issues relating to school needs and teachers along the Pomeroon River during Thursday’s visit.(G-8)