Guyana to be net exporter of soya bean in 5 years – Mustapha

…42 new agro-processors started operations in 2021

The Government plans for Guyana, which started producing corn and soya bean in trial runs last year financed by local and foreign investors, to be a net exporter of soya bean in the next five years.
This was revealed by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, during his contribution to the budget debate on Tuesday. According to Mustapha, this is a matter that has already been raised at the level of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) ministerial task force that he chairs.
“Guyana is chairing the ministerial task force. We have prioritised items and commodities that we are pursuing. We have already started the trial run with the corn and soya bean. This year we will continue to expand that. Last year, we started 125 acres. This year, we will expand it,” he explained.
“The feed industry in our country, we import close to US$30 million annually in feed. We want in another three years to be self-sufficient, and another two years from there to be a net exporter of corn and soya,” Mustapha said.
When it comes to agro-processing – turning agricultural produce into value added products – he said that a number of new agro-processors have come on board with the Government and the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), where locally-made products are marketed.
“In agro-processing, we are moving rapidly. We are building agro-processing facilities in all corners of the country – Region One, Region Six, Region Nine and every corner. And we are giving equal opportunities to people across the country.
“Over the last year, 42 new agro processors have come on board. And we have increased the items to 292 new products in the GMC shop,” the Agriculture Minister further said in his presentation to the House.
It was only last year that harvesting started at a 115-acre soya bean and a five-acre corn pilot project in Ebini, Upper Berbice River – a joint venture between various local and foreign investors – aimed at proving all raw materials for the production of livestock and poultry feed for the local sector.
The initiative is being developed by a consortium of investors that includes the owners of Guyana Stock Feed Ltd, Royal Chicken, Edun Farms, SBM Wood, Dubulay Ranch, and Bounty Farm Ltd, along with the Brazilian-owned NF Agriculture.

Harvesting at the soya farm last year

Back in April 2021, Assistant Managing Director of Bounty Farm Limited, David Fernandes had explained the group’s vision for the project. During his presentation, Fernandes said that Guyana has long been touted as having the potential of being the bread basket of the Caribbean and that in recent years there has been a greater appreciation of the high dependence on imports for livestock feed.
With Guyana spending close to US$25 million annually on proteins just for the poultry sector, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, since taking office, has taken steps to promote domestic cultivation of grains like corn and soya bean.
Government, in its 2020 Emergency Budget, removed Value-Added Tax (VAT) on agricultural machinery, fertilisers, agrochemicals, and pesticides, making it more feasible for such investments.
Additionally, the Government has reversed land lease fees across all sectors and water charges back to 2014 rates. Last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali had said that in the next four years, Guyana, via more diversified crops, would be aiming to reduce the Caricom food import bill by 25 per cent.
“Guyana intends to become the agricultural heartland of the English-speaking Caribbean, and play its part in helping the Caribbean Community reduce its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025,” the President had said in his Agriculture Month message.
President Ali had further explained that agriculture has long been a mainstream of Guyana’s economy, and its contribution could not be downplayed. He had said that in 2020, the sector was responsible for 16.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and along with forestry and fishing, it accounted for 12.2 per cent of the national employment numbers. (G3)