Region 2 to actively participate in ‘Vision 25 by 2025’

…farmers to start producing high-value crops, brackish water shrimp, coconuts

The Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) strides to achieve “Vision 25 by 2025” are well underway, with approximately 60 per cent of the target having been met. Guyana continues to play a major role in the progress recorded by produced a large number of commodities identified by the region’s ministerial taskforce and approved by the Heads of Government of Caricom.
To continue along this trajectory, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha disclosed that Guyana would be scaling up its exports of food commodities and value-added products in 2024. This requires the country to ramp up its production of crops, livestock, and aquaculture produce, among other things.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha handing over the keys to a new 15-seater bus to the Guyana School of Agriculture in Anna Regina

During a community meeting on Saturday morning in Dartmouth, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Mustapha informed farmers that Government would be investing heavily in the advancement of agriculture in the region this year. As a result, farmers will benefit from provision of lucrative crops; such as wheat, bananas, coconuts, coffee, cocoa, citrus fruits, pepper, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg and onions.
The minister also hinted at interest to construct in the region a hydroponics farm similar to the one at the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. Additionally, it was disclosed that Government is looking to make the region a producer of brackish water shrimp and prawns.

Meeting with residents of Dartmouth, Danielstown, Queenstown, and Good Hope, Essequibo Coast

“When you talk about Essequibo Coast and you’re on the Corentyne, you think about rice only, so we have to change (that) perception; we have to do new things… continue to do that, but bring in new activities…we can work with you here, you get land, the sea water, the river water; the river water, make it into brackish water and get the shrimp, because the larva comes in from the sea,” Mustapha stated.
Further, he explained that Government is working to ensure that farmers in the region have access to better breeding animals, to aid in the enhancement of the cattle industry. He added that his ministry is willing to foster collaborations between local small-, medium- and large-scale farmers and regional as well as international partners.
“We are seeing lots of investments coming in the country, and you here in Essequibo Coast also have those opportunities. What we are doing, we are trying to link investors with farmers in Guyana; so, you have the land, you have the asset, and they bring the finance and you work together to try to develop your plots,” the agriculture minister explained.

Good Hope meeting
At another meeting at Good Hope Primary School on the Essequibo Coast, also on Saturday, Mustapha engaged residents to discuss transformative plans for the agriculture sector in 2024.
He highlighted Government’s commitment to modernising the agriculture sector by citing a significant focus on development in the coast over the past three years. Emphasizing the importance of the sector for food security, he expressed a dedication to bringing about a massive transformation through modern infrastructure and practices.
“We are working around the clock to make resources available and ensure the development of this sector,” Mustapha stated, adding that there is need for a more modern, less labour-intensive approach, and encouraging young people to join the agriculture sector.
Further, Mustapha mentioned the Agriculture Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme, a shareholder company aimed at involving youths. He detailed upcoming projects, including a hydroponic facility in Region Two that is set to engage 100 young individuals.
With a goal to achieving food self-sufficiency, Mustapha announced plans to introduce new crops to Guyana with additional focus on creating a resilient livestock industry by importing diverse breeds and establishing a distinct Guyanese brand, such as the Black Belly brand initiated with Barbados.
“We want to create a brand of mutton in Guyana. It is the Black Belly brand that Guyana and Barbados started… all these investments over the three years have seen a renewed interest in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Further, the minister acknowledged the importance of value-added in agriculture by expressing a desire to move away from primary production.
Meanwhile, residents at the meeting voiced their concerns on matters affecting them in their communities, and the agriculture sector in the region. One resident, Lim Chung, spoke on behalf of a farmers’ group seeking assistance with modern equipment for more efficient farming.
“Since you said you want the agriculture sector to be modernised, we are calling on you to assist us with tools and equipment that will assist us in an efficient way,” Chung said.
Another resident, Jairam Persaud, also called on the minister for support in improving bed and drainage systems. And further, he called for the canal to be desilted to facilitate easy transport of produce.
Also attending the meetings were Regional Chairperson Vilma De Silva and Regional Health Officer Ranjeeve Singh, among other officials of GRDB and NARIE.

New bus for GSA
Meanwhile, while on his visit to the Essequibo Coast, the minister handed over the keys to a new 15-seater bus to the Guyana School of Agriculture in Anna Regina.
This, the ministry said, was done in keeping with a commitment made by President Dr Irfaan Ali during an outreach to the region late last year. During that meeting, the ministry said, requests were made for additional transportation to be made available to assist students with attending the institution.
While offering brief remarks, Mustapha encouraged the students to use the bus for its intended purpose.
The students and the school’s administration thanked President Ali for honouring the commitment.

Budget 2024
The Agriculture Ministry has been allocated $97.6 billion in Budget 2024 for the advancement of the industry.
The largest portion of the agriculture budget, totalling $72.3 billion, is earmarked for drainage and irrigation works, acquisition of 40 mobile pumps, and $6 billion to bolster the sugar industry, specifically targeting improvements in GuySuCo’s production and operational efficiency.
Additionally, of the $97.6 billlion budgeted for the agriculture sector, $1.3 billion would be expended by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to support increased production and productivity in the rice industry.
In terms of other crops, cultivation of corn, soya bean, citrus, spices, coconuts, high-value crops such as broccoli, cauliflowers, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, carrots would be expanded. In 2024, Government would continue to accelerate coconut production by investing in 39,000 high-yielding seed nuts as 500 additional farmers are targetted.

GPD growth
In 2023, Guyana’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 33 percent, while the non-oil real economy grew by 11.7 percent. The growth recorded in 2023 is attributed to the expansion of Guyana’s oil and gas activities, while growth in the non-oil economy is attributed to the expansion of construction services, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and mining.
In fact, sugar production grew by 28 percent in 2023, rice grew by 7 percent, fishing 37.8 percent, while the livestock industry expanded by 12.7 percent and aquaculture production expanded by 70 per cent.