Guyana through local agricultural initiatives has the potential to feed the entire Caribbean, President David Granger said at the commissioning of a Self Sufficient Agricultural Economic Project at the Hugo Chávez Centre in Onverwagt on the West Coast of Berbice.
The project was launched as a means to reduce the cost of daily services offered by the Social Protection Ministry, by implementing a self-sustained agricultural project at the Berbice-based rehabilitation centre.
It was at this event that the President proclaimed that with further efforts, Guyana can cash in on being the leading agricultural producer within the Caribbean Region.
As such, the President urged those in attendance and by extension all Guyanese to return to the ‘eat what you grow’ approach so as to maximise local produce. He conveyed, “I would like to see every yard with a garden; every garden with trees. I would like us to eat what we grow. We should eat what we produce.”
Granger went on to say that, “If every household in Region Five had one bread fruit tree, we could produce a million kilograms of bread fruit every year. This way we can not only feed ourselves and our children and our families, but the entire Caribbean Region as well.”
Given the projected success of this undertaking, Granger pointed out that other entities can follow suit in such projects, pointing to the fact that it cost Government $250,000 to feed one prisoner per year. As such, he proposed that if the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) can establish its own farm, the prisons would be able to sustain themselves.
“I would like to encourage other Government agencies to follow this example by setting up productive enterprises to reduce the food bill and private enterprises, as well, to get more involved in food production to help Guyana to become a green state and ensure that Guyanese are well fed and protected from food insecurity,” the President stated.
Sharing in the sentiments of the President at the launch was a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Reuben Robertson. Robertson pointed out that this undertaking of the Social Protection Ministry was in accordance with his organisation’s mandate, which is to eliminate hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
The first phase of the project at the Centre in Berbice saw the setting up of three fish ponds, several pens to house cattle and poultry, as well as a greenhouse for production of vegetables. This project was made possible through the Ministry’s collaboration with the Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA); the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI); the Fisheries Division of the Agriculture Ministry; the FAO and the St Francis Community Developers (SFCD) of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) along with business owners and residents of Region Five ( Mahaica-Berbice).
Commissioned on August 10, 2013, the Hugo Chávez Centre for Rehabilitation provides accommodation for homeless persons and offers services such as medical assistance and treatment to members of underserved communities. The facility caters for 180 Guyanese, allowing for about 100 males and 80 females, who will now benefit from the launch of the sustainable agriculture initiative.