Guyana, Barbados sign agreement for increased exports

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President Dr Irfaan Ali and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley (left) after the accord was signed

To further facilitate relations between Guyana and Barbados, and collaboration in a number of areas, including agriculture and food security, an agreement has been signed by President Dr Irfaan Ali and Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados.

The agreement, called the Saint Barnabas Accord, was signed on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 43rd Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meeting, and it paves the way for the two countries to further dialogue in nine specific areas. It is an updated agreement, since a previous Saint Barnabas Accord was signed between the two leaders.

“Among those areas are agriculture, aquaculture and food security. Other areas captured in the agreement are mining and quarrying; tourism and international transport; trade and business development; energy; manufacturing; education, technical and vocational training, including capacity building; cooperation in security and bilateral integration measures,” the Office of the President announced.

Meanwhile, information released from the Barbados Government Information Service revealed detailed information on the areas of cooperation in the agriculture sector for which the accord will provide.

The St Barnabas Accord states that Barbados and Guyana have agreed to twin the work programmes of their respective Agriculture Ministries, which also entails an exchange of officials from each other’s Ministries.

A Joint Working Group on Food and Nutritional Security, comprising Ministries responsible for agriculture and health; state-owned agricultural and marketing corporations; and private sector representatives, will also be created.

The accord also caters for “export from Guyana to Barbados of beef, corn and soya, coconut and coconut products, fruits and vegetables, poultry and poultry products, and other products as may be determined; export from Guyana to Barbados of shade houses; export from Barbados to Guyana of one thousand (1,000) artificially inseminated black belly sheep in tranches.”

It also states that a company will be established to manage the black belly sheep production, and a youth programme will be created that includes differently- abled persons to work on a rotational basis on a fifty (50) acre farm in Guyana.

President Ali had previously announced that several acres of Guyana’s land would be allocated to be utilised by Barbadian farmers. According to the accord, Guyana will be leasing land to Barbados at concessional prices “for the purpose of joint partnership in animal husbandry and poultry-rearing (including poultry feed production); and for the production of flowers, food crops inclusive of breadfruit, cassava, plantains, pineapple, bananas, passion fruit, oranges and coconuts.”

A community will also be identified in Guyana to partner with Barbados farmers for the large-scale cultivation of black belly sheep. Food terminals with operational plant and facilities would also be established in both countries for local use and for export, while a trade hub would also be developed in Barbados.

The two countries will also be working closely together on the “Vision 25 by 2025” initiative that seeks to increase food security and slash the food import bill of the region by 25 per cent in the next three years. Barbados will also be participating in a meeting to be convened by Guyana to analyze gaps in the initiative.

“Guyana to provide Barbados with an aquaculture plan that will include processing and packaging of fish. A technical team to visit Barbados to assist with the advancement of this project; Barbados and Guyana Agriculture Ministries to establish a youth exchange programme for aquaculture training”, the accord also establishes.

It also caters for the “early commencement of work by officials of the two countries for the standardisation and harmonisation of protocols and procedures on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, to facilitate timely approval and resolution of issues.”

Guyana will meanwhile be providing Barbados with the tissue culture for the planting of cherries, grapefruit, dragon fruit, breadfruit, and other food crops for a project to be undertaken by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC).