Region 9 will be an important food production & export hub – Pres Ali
…says more than 785 projects in region
With more than 785 projects ongoing in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and over 1000 acres of corn and soya planted in the Tacama Savannah, President Dr Irfaan Ali has made it clear that the region would be an important grain production and export hub.
During his visit to Lethem on Wednesday, President Ali joined in Indigenous celebrations at the St Ignatius Benab. He reminded residents of the strategic importance of Region Nine, noting that in that particular region alone almost 800 projects were ongoing.
“In this region here alone, I’m not going to remind you about the more than $1.3 billion in presidential grants. But in this region alone, we have more than 785 projects that are ongoing. More than 85 villages will have benefited from land transports in the last three years.
“More than 74 villages would have benefited from water transport, 84 from land transport. And I can say to you that 99 per cent of the commitment we would have made whether when I’m here, we have fulfilled for every single village,” President Ali said.
In particular when it comes to agriculture, Region Nine is currently host to over 1000 acres of soya bean crop planted in Tacama Savannah by a public-private partnership. According to President Ali, Region Nine will be an important part of Guyana’s plans to be a net exporter of agriculture.
“One of the important aspects of building these communities is food security. Here in Region Nine, we have been able to spend almost $500 million in different villages to enhance your livelihood and your food security development. But more importantly, with the road that we’re doing and the bridges to Georgetown, a whole new market for production will increase,” the President noted.
“And Region Nine will be an important part of the grain supply. You hear about the war in Ukraine and the impact it is having on supply of grains globally. Region Nine will be an important part of producing and supplying grains, not only in Guyana, but the entire Caricom region. Region Nine will be that tremendous production base.”
According to the President, this will not only ensure job creation in logistics and transportation, including for mechanics, this will also attract investors. In fact, the President noted that there are investors looking at value-added opportunities in the sugar sector even now.
“We want to build a food infrastructure here in this region. We have investors, looking at value added. At raw sugar produced in Brazil, to see how it can be converted into refined and liquid sugar, adding enough value to it so it can access the Caricom market. We have big plans. We have a vision for this region, which will see the complete modernisation.
“But also, the protection of our culture and the utilisation of our culture in creating a strong eco-tourism product. We’ll build the infrastructure. We’re going to do the training. We’re going to invest in our human capacity to build our eco-tourism in this region. Not only strong, but competitive,” President Ali further explained.
Earlier this month, he had revealed that as of the first half of 2023, Guyana had cultivated over 3000 acres of soya beans and over 1200 acres of corn. President Ali had also indicated Government’s commitment to ensuring that by the end of 2026, Guyana would have 50,000 acres of land under corn and soya cultivation.
The key stakeholders in the massive corn and soya bean project include the Government, farmers, and private companies. However, the Government has played a crucial role in supporting the growth of the industry, with a commitment of over $1.2 billion to infrastructural development in the Tacama area, Berbice River.
Last year, the Government improved access to the area by constructing 40 kilometres of road, with the remaining seven kilometres scheduled to be completed in 2023. Additionally, the Government invested in a drying and storage facility for corn and soya bean, which will be completed this year, establishing the first such facility in the country.
Plans are also afoot to start cultivating corn and soya bean in Moco Village, North Rupununi. The Agriculture Ministry is also assessing the capacity in other regions, with the aim of taking the project there in the future. (G3)