Guyana imports 40% of its food; Govt working towards self-sufficiency

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A vegetable stall at a market in Georgetown

President Dr Irfaan Ali said Monday that his government remains steadfast in ensuring that Guyana will soon boast a self-sufficient food industry. The country imports 40 per cent of its food.

Addressing the Harvard Business School at a virtual faculty workshop, the Head of State said Guyana has the potential to become the regional agricultural giant, though being one of the smallest states in South America.

To date, the PPP/C Administration has made significant investments, with some $22.6 billion allocated to advance the agriculture sector this year.

These investments, the President said, will enhance the nation’s competitiveness, ensuring that there is a resilient and diversified economy, to withstand shocks and challenges.

“We are investing in the infrastructure to support our farmers. We are helping them with their capital investments to create and increase production and productivity. We are building farm-to-market access roads. We are doing agro-processing plants in farming communities; reducing the cost of moving raw materials,” the Guyanese leader told the virtual event.

Millions of dollars have already been pumped into constructing thoroughfares to give agriculturists easy access to their farms.

Some 50,000 acres of prime farmlands will be made available, as works advance to construct two high quality asphaltic roads at Numbers 52 and 58 villages along the Corentyne Coast.

Additionally, the sod was officially turned for the construction of a $327 million farm-to-market road at Onverwagt, Region Five, this year.

Recently, government completed the $60 million agro-processing facility in Region Two. The food processing factory will soon be outfitted with high-end equipment ahead of its official opening. Works are underway to construct another agro-processing plant at Black Bush Polder, Region Six.

The President underscored that it is important for Guyana to acquire international food standards, in its quest to perform effectively in the international market.

“We are ensuing that we have adequate and stable power and water supply, to support agro processing and smart agriculture. We are looking at clear and credible quality and safety standards,” the Head of State added.

He emphasised the importance of having certified and adequate laboratory facilities, even as government seeks to improve its agricultural health and food safety and traceability services.

“We are also focusing on using science and technology innovation to produce more high value crops; many of which are imported,” President Ali noted.

Government’s holistic aim is to transform the sub-sectors within the food industry – aquaculture, livestock, fisheries, drainage and irrigation – to a standard that ensures food security and Guyana being a dominant player in the CARICOM market.

The PPP/C Government will continue to make tremendous contributions to CARICOM’s ambitious 25 by 2025 target, which is, to reduce the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, through food substitution and increased production. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]