Women, youths must be part owners of agricultural investments – Pres Ali

…during address to Latin American Development Bank on food security

President Dr Irfaan Ali as he participated in the roundtable hosted by the Americas Society/Council of Americas

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has enacted a policy to ensure that local women and youth have a percentage of ownership in all new agricultural investments, as part of its efforts to make agriculture more sustainable.
The President made this disclosure while addressing the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) dialogue on Food Security in Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday. He emphasised to attendees, the importance of ensuring youths and women are meaningfully involved in food security efforts.
“In Guyana, for example, we have now made a policy that all the new investment in agriculture, driven by technology, would have a percentage owned by women and youth. So, in all investments we’re making in livestock, 35 per cent of those farms must be owned by women and 30 per cent of those farms must be owned by youth,” he said.
“This is how we’re going to ensure sustainability. If we’re not in a position to encourage the next generation, young people, to be part of agriculture and see it as something exciting, innovative, and challenging, that utilises technology, then we will not be able to create a sustainable framework for the production of food and the sustainability and resilience of the agriculture sector.”
According to Ali, the Government must protect the vulnerable. This also includes protecting the agricultural sector. The President noted that countries are currently being faced with a “food catastrophe”.
“We must expand our national protection systems. Protecting the most vulnerable, maintaining food to supply markets, maintaining investments in food production and farming, maintaining green, resilient and inclusive food systems.”
“One of the greatest fallouts of the pandemic is educational losses. So, countries are now reorienting their budgets to fill that educational gap. What we’re failing to realise is that there is a food catastrophe before us,” he said.
To add salt to the wound, Ali said, is the issue of climate change. He noted that this phenomenon will take more land out of production, reduce the production capacity of countries and ultimately, increase food prices.
“In Guyana, we’ve taken many actions. And in the Region, to reduce our food import by 25 per cent by 2025. Through the investment in technology and research and development, removal of trade barriers, institutional strengthening and expanding the access to agricultural lands,” the President said.
“As we move forward, we must be able to find innovative ways of bridging the gap. How are we going to bridge the financing gap. How are we going to restructure loans to ensure that there’s a mix in concessional financing to help farmers to increase production to invest in drainage and irrigation, to invest in climate resilient agriculture?”
He noted that another important factor to be interrogated is how to secure more financing for agriculture and the extent to which concessions will be given to secure this financing. This is something he said must be looked at on a Regional basis, with the whole Region coming up with solutions.
According to President Ali, more effort also needs to be put into coming up with strategies that use technology to increase food production… which can also be shared among partners in the region.
The President, who is currently in New York attending the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), also spoke at a Roundtable and Luncheon hosted by the Americas Society/Council of Americas. While there, President Ali outlined the many investment opportunities in Guyana, pointing to the country’s advantageous geographic position that facilitates trade, transport, and logistics.
He also emphasised that his Government is building an economy for 2030 and beyond with heavy investments in health and education, eco-tourism, capacity building, agriculture, and human resource development.
President Ali was accompanied by the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations, Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues; Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud; Director of Projects Marcia Nadir-Sharma and Deputy Ambassador of the Guyanese Embassy in Washington DC, Zulfikar Ally.