Despite the absence of a regional agriculture budget for a number of years, the intermediate savannahs of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) has been earmarked as Guyana’s new agricultural frontier, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder has indicated. The Minister was at the time speaking at a meeting with regional officials in Linden, where they met to discuss the situation with agriculture in the region and plans for its development.
In his address, Minister Holder outlined that Guyana has two distinct areas of savannah lands which can be utilised for agricultural expansion – the intermediate savannahs of Region 10 and the South-East Rupununi savannahs of Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo). Noting that the country has limited financial capacity to conquer the worst impact of climate change, Minister Holder said it has opted to follow the pathway leading to a green economy instead.
“In this regard, the intermediate savannahs of Region 10 have been earmarked as Guyana’s new agricultural frontier as the country continues the quest to narrow the gap between the coastland and hinterland region,” he outlined.
The Minister noted that agricultural stations are being constructed in the major eco zones in the country, including one at Ebini, Region 10. These stations, the Minister said, demonstrate agricultural potential for orchards, nurseries and seed production as well as for small ruminants. According to the Minister, it will also create new employment opportunities and compliment other activities such as mining, as he stressed that Region 10 is the gateway to the interior savannahs with vast land resource.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Region 10 is vital to the development of Guyana. It is strategically located in the heart of the country… It is my belief that the transformation of the region lies with agriculture. Economic conditions of the mining industry forces us to accelerate the rate of activity for investment and development in Region 10 through agriculture,” he continued. The Minister added that good planning and governance is necessary, however, in order to achieve the successful agricultural development of the intermediate savannahs and as such, a number of studies have already been incorporated into a detailed plan.
He pointed out that the region’s budget has increased by 39 per cent over the last three years which is an indication of the importance of the region.
“However, I note… that there’s no allocation for agriculture in your budget and this needs to be addressed.” Additionally, Holder said the Ministry will commence the design and upgrade of facilities to the Ebini agricultural station, through the Sustainable Development Agricultural programme. Additionally, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has budgeted $105.7 million for manual cleaning of drains in various communities in addition to other rehabilitation projects which Ebini and West Watooka will benefit.
There are also plans to enhance the programme at Ebini to include the breeding of farm animals, soya beans production and evaluation of new crops such as potatoes.
Using the four pillars outlined by the President, including ‘Investment, Information Technology, Infrastructure, Innovation’, Holder said this will be used as a backdrop to set the stage for developing the region’s agriculture plan, adding that the Ministry has already examined studies and plans to determine a new course of action for agricultural development.
Of 58 farm lots identified so far, 22 are situated at Ebini and about five at Wiruni among other areas.