Sod turned for $200M shade house facility in Reg 2

– expected to rake millions from cash crops

In a defining moment for Guyana’s agriculture Landscape in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday turned the sod for a $200 million shade house facility to bolster food security in the region.
The spanking new facility, which is slated to be completed by February 2024, was launched in the compound of the Guyana School of Agriculture’s (GSA) compound.
During his address, President Ali drew a poignant comparison between Venezuela’s unrestrained actions and Guyana’s unwavering focus on rallying Essequibo’s populace towards self-sustainability in food production.

President Ali addressing the gathering on Sunday

Highlighting Essequibo’s pivotal role, Ali underscored its profound significance as not only a bastion of natural resources but also the primary hub for Guyana’s food production. His address resonated with the notion that Essequibo is the veritable breadbasket of the nation, contributing substantially to Guyana’s food consumption.
“Essequibo is not only rich in natural resources but the home for an important deliverable for the people of Guyana and that is the production of food. Essequibo produces a lot of the food that we eat here in Guyana. So, as we continue to face this challenge, we make it through the development of Essequibo, the development of Guyana and it will continue. Even today as Venezuela seek to have a referendum, we are sending this very strong signal that we are building our Essequibo stronger, better, more sustainable, and resilient.”
Ali’s speech exuded determination amidst adversity, affirming Guyana’s dedication to bolstering Essequibo’s resilience and sustainability in the face of external challenges. His elation at welcoming young enthusiasts to the expansive land clearance for the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme epitomised his fervent belief in the programme’s potential impact.

The area earmarked for the $200 million shade house

The Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme, designed for innovation, sustainability, and resilience, aims to engage over two hundred young minds in high-tech agriculture, agro-processing, and high-value crop production, envisioned to transform Region Two into an integrated food and agriculture business centre.
Emphasising the broader societal imperative, President Ali urged communities not to falter in their pursuit of nation-building. He assured the populace of the soundness and security of investments, rallying Guyanese to embrace the challenge of advancing the country’s development trajectory.
The hydrophobic shade house mirrors the one in Mon Repos on the East Coast of Demerara and represents an initial investment exceeding two hundred million dollars.
President Ali outlined the facility’s focus on high-value crops such as lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, eschallot, kale, and pak-choy, destined not just for Essequibo’s market but for broader hospitality industry expansion.

A section of the young people at the launch on Sunday

He added, “Let us not slow the movement of investing…have no fear with our investment because we are working to ensure that our investment is secure. Today in this first phase of this project we are launching the hydroponic shade house in Region Two that is modern just like the one in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. This investment that will involve young people is an investment of over two hundred million dollars and we are going to focus on some high-value crops that are critically needed in our economy as it continues to grow and diversify so this initial facility will be almost an acre in size (the hydroponics facility) will see us focusing on crops like lettuce of every variety including the ones that import because the aim is to replace our import.”
With meticulous planning, encompassing diverse sections for vegetables, nurseries, intercropping, and tertiary development, President Ali illustrated the potential production impact of the project.
It is proposed that a staggering 40,000 pounds of lettuce will be produced per year, generating approximately $100 million in revenue; and 3000 pounds of bell pepper with an estimated revenue nearing $4.8 million. There is also the anticipation of three annual tomato harvests, reaching close to 12,000 pounds, potentially yielding around $5.5 million. Additionally, expectations also extend to 18,000 pounds of celery, foreseeing revenue surpassing $5 million, 18,000 pounds of eschallot, 17,000 pounds of kale, and an impressive 378,000 heads of pak-choy.
Beyond financial prospects, this venture promises substantial employment opportunities for over 200 residents in the initial phase and a commitment to train an additional 200 young people as agro-tech entrepreneurs, amplifying Essequibo’s self-reliance and sustainability.
President Ali concluded on a note of resilience, invoking the virtues of honesty, truth, dignity, and honour, and extended a call for unity, peace, and prosperity not just for Guyana but also for Venezuela. (Raywattie Deonarine)