Investors confident in Guyana’s economy – Agri. Minister

Min. Holder flanked by official and farmers in Brazil
Min. Holder flanked by official and farmers in Brazil
Min. Holder flanked by official and farmers in Brazil

[] – Guyana and Brazil have committed to working closely with each other to realize this country’s agriculture potential, especially as it relates to Guyana’s intermediate Savannahs in Region Six and Rupununi, Region Nine.

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, while holding talks with the former Governor and current Special Advisor to the Governor of Roraima, Mr. Neudo Campos expressed the Government’s support for any efforts aimed at fostering closer cooperation in areas of mutual interest. The Meeting took place in Boa Vista, Brazil, on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

The Agriculture Minister noted that there continues to be tremendous potential for agriculture development in the hinterland, which thus far has largely remained untapped.

Several issues relative to cross border trade, the road from Lethem to Linden, a deep water harbour and closer cooperation in the sharing of skills and expertise were also discussed.

The former Roraima Governor promised action that would allow Guyana’s agriculture produce into Brazil. Agriculture produce from Guyana is currently blocked due to fears that the Carambola fruit fly may be present in Guyana.

Through the assistance of IICA, Guyana was able to develop a robust and reliable information sharing system that allows easy reporting on the Carombola Fruit Fly. In its 2011 report, IICA noted that technical officers from Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture undertook eight field trips along the route between the Guyana-Brazil borders.

Mr. Campos extended an invitation for a technical team from Guyana to meet with their counterparts in Brazil within two weeks to iron out issues of cross border trade.

“Trade with Guyana remains an important part of our Government’s agenda and we will work to ensure that all avenues be sorted (out) and our relationship progress even further. Guyana has always had friendly relations with Brazil and we hope to further expand this in the near future,” he said.

Guyana’s Agriculture Minister also raised the problem of Brazilian cattle farmers illegally crossing the border with their animals during Brazil’s dry season to graze on the lush pastures on the Guyana side of the border.

The Brazilian state official promised to look into the matter, noting that it would be easy for the Brazilian authorities to find out who the offending farmers are, and take steps to ensure that the practice be discontinued.

Guyana was certified free of foot and mouth disease and is free to export beef to regional and international markets. However, Brazil has not yet been certified free of foot and mouth disease, even though, according to the government, it has been twelve years since the last case was identified.

The illegal crossing of cows from Brazil to Guyana could jeopardize Guyana’s international certification and scuttle its fledgling cattle industry.

The meeting between Guyana’s Agriculture Minister and the Brazilian State official also allowed for Brazil to again express its keen interest in working with the Government of Guyana towards the construction of the road from Lethem to Linden, a deep water harbour, and the establishment of a Hydro electricity generating facility for the supply of power to both countries.

The meeting between the two Governments was facilitated by NF Agriculture Inc., a Brazilian company that is currently engaged in a pilot project for the cultivation of soya beans and corn at Ebini, in the Berbice River.

The Agriculture Minister and his accompanying team ( Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Mr. George Jervis, Chief Executive Officer, National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute, Dr. Oudho Homenauth and Agriculture Diversification Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Jean David) were also taken on tours to major soya bean cultivations.

During the visit, the Managing Director of NF Agriculture Mr. Yucatan Reis, accompanied by Mr. Geison Nicaretta, Mr. Alcione Nicoletti and Mr. Afranio Webber exposed the Guyanese team to technologies that are used on farms, both in relation to the layout of the cultivation as well as the equipment.

The project by NF Agriculture Inc. involves the cultivation of soya bean and corn and is expected to significantly aid the Caribbean in reducing its imports of those commodities and allow for trade and expanded markets within the Region. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister also visited several farms in the Rupununi including Santa Fe, J.R, Waikin and Peter Alves ranch.

While at Santa Fe, the Agriculture Minister got a firsthand look at technologies being used on the farm. The management of Santa Fe is adamant that the investment continues to be a favourable one and remains committed to ensuring additional growth in the Hinterland Regions.

Since commencing operations, the Santa Fe farm has had successful harvests of paddy and cash crops. The farm has also branched off to rearing pigs, cows and sheep, as the investors pursue a modern cattle industry.

The project first started with the cultivation of 120 acres of paddy. However, the Simpson Family, who also owns Sol Group, have since significantly expanded their operations.

The Santa Fe project is not only equipped with a certified mill to process the paddy, but also with the necessary infrastructure such as drainage and irrigation canals, and a pump system.

The project is being managed and supervised by Guyanese Richard Vasconcellos. Of the 60 employees, 57 are Guyanese from Region Nine. [Extracted and modified from GINA]




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