President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Tuesday, officially launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme -a flagship initiative which he said, will stimulate and promote significant economic growth in the lives of young agriculturists.
The massive project, the Head of State explained, will see the construction of 25 shade houses being established for the cultivation of three high value crops; carrot, broccoli and cauliflower.
The plan targets former and current students of the University of Guyana (UG), the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), and other budding agriculture entrepreneurs.
“You are part of the future. What we are creating here is people who will be a part of the transformative agenda, the future of the country and we are going to support this,” Dr. Ali said during the ceremony held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
In the first phase of the initiative, a company named “One Guyana” will be established and managed by the young agriculturists. Government plans to provide all the materials to begin construction of the shade houses.
Additionally, investments will be given through the private sector, while support will be provided by the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service, among other stakeholders.
“We are putting every single person to productive use. So, all of them would help us in terms of the labour and establishing the shade house and infrastructure.”
The Guyanese Leader pointed out that the project is not an experiment, since the crops are already growing in Guyana’s soil.
He said the consumption pattern of Guyanese shows that the three products are necessary. Also based on assessment, with the tourism boost and influx of visitors, there is economic indication that the type of foods is on demand.
“We are also going to link into the regional food security system. The regional food security system is even more important. We are the agriculture seat of the region and we have to lead by example. Whilst we are working on one hand to expand local production in the local market, we are already eliminating the barriers to the regional markets so that we are going to expand this progressively, until we are able to reach into the regional market,” the Head of State added.
In 2018, the import value for carrot, broccoli and cauliflower was $1.583 billion, while in 2019 and 2021 the import value stood at $ 2.626 billion and $1.962 billion, respectively.
President Ali said the large sum of money could be spent right here.
“You are talking here about a business that could generate in a net sense using these three crops, about $60 million to $70 million annually. That’s for the 25 shade houses that we want to do and this is just phase one, we are going to expand this,” Dr. Ali said.
The Head of State has, on may occasions, stressed his willingness and commitment to work with the nation’s young minds, rallying with them along the journey to prosperity and creating opportunities to ensure they inherit a better Guyana.
“Young people must feel empowered. You see the resources from oil and gas give us this opportunity, to open up opportunities in these areas and this is where the real benefit will be, this is where Guyanese will benefit the most, these opportunities, creating it and giving you the ownership,” the President added.
He said young people are the custodians of Guyana’s tomorrow and their spirit of inclusiveness and selflessness are pivotal in taking the country forward. These attitudes, the PPP/C Administration will embrace, the President emphasised.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, told the young people that he is adamant that the initiative will transform their future.