President David Granger said, yesterday, at the official opening ceremony of two Farm to Market Roads in Parika, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region 3), that Guyana’s abundance of land and freshwater supplies for agricultural purposes places it an enviable position to take advantage of the increased demand for food globally and in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He added that Region 3, a ‘power house’ in the agriculture sector, is well poised to make a significant contribution in this regard.
The roads, which were officially opened today, are two of four farm to market roads that make up the Access Dams/Roads Rehabilitation Project funded under an agreement between the Government of Guyana and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), which was initially signed in July 2013 to the tune of US$9.09M.
In November 2015, that agreement, which is the largest one in the region to date, was amended from the original figure to US$11.87M, of which US$3.49M is considered a grant. This was made possible due to Guyana making its agreed contribution of US$3.5 million to the CDF. The roads, which were constructed and upgraded, include the two in Parika; Ruby Paved Road and Parika Paved Road and the Laluni All Weather Road and the Onverwagt Paved Road.
These roads are expected to benefit more than 9,500 farmers and enable them to get a larger amount of their production to the markets in a timelier manner and in better condition. President Granger indicated that he has received reports that the Ruby Road has already resulted in a 25 percent increase in acreage of cash crops under cultivation from 2014 to present, whilst in Naamryck-Parika Back, there has been a 50 percent increase in acreage under cash crop cultivated from 2014.
This, the President said, emphasises the importance of investments in infrastructural development in the agriculture sector. He added that Government will continue to work in concert with farmers, residents and the regional and local administration to ensure that development projects in the sector are successful and benefit the Region and the country as a whole.
The President also announced that Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder would be looking into why the The Hubu cassava mill and the Parika Packaging Facility, both planned as innovative investments to help farmers and manufacturers gain a higher price for their produce, were not successful. The Minister, he said, will explore whether a private enterprise model for similar programmes would be more feasible.
The President also said that investment, whether through members of the diaspora or from States in the region is required if Guyana is going to be able to take advantage of opportunities in CARICOM and beyond, presented by the need for food security.
President Granger said, “Guyana hosted, this past week, the 37th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community. I have invited regional leaders to invest in Guyana, including investing in Guyana’s vast agricultural potential. The countries of the Caribbean have the capital. We have the land and freshwater. There is no reason why we should not engage in a partnership aimed to increasing agricultural output to help achieve food security in the Caribbean.”
Expertise, knowledge and information, the President said, are also key to the development of the sector and declared that Guyana can provide the answers to the region’s large food import bill.
“International food prices have been declining for the major traded agricultural products and are at the lowest levels since 2009. Yet, the food import bill of CARICOM has been rising and stands, today, at over US$4 Billion annually. CARICOM’s food insecurity must be reversed if the Caribbean is to survive. Guyana’s farmers can contribute to regional food security by increasing agricultural output. Caribbean leaders are looking to Guyana as the new horizon for agricultural development,” he said.
Minister Holder, in his remarks, said that when the current Government took office addressing the deplorable and underdeveloped infrastructural facilities, with particular reference to farm to market roads, was placed at the top of the agenda. (Taken from GINA)