Agriculture is on a transformative trajectory
The designation of October as Agriculture Month is in recognition of the importance of the sector’s contributions to the country’s economy, and its critical role in guaranteeing food security and supporting sustainable livelihoods.
Agriculture has long been a mainstay of Guyana’s economy. In 2020, the value of agricultural output amounted to 16.2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The sector makes a valuable contribution to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Along with forestry and fishing, it accounts for 12.2% of national employment and provides livelihoods for thousands of workers and their families.
The nationwide floods of May-June this year have caused widespread devastation to the agricultural sector. Our first priority, therefore, is to ensure rapid recovery of agricultural production and minimise disruptions to the country’s food supply. Government is supporting the restoration of the agriculture sector, including its distribution of flood and recovery relief.
We are also reversing some of the ills of the sector. In just over one year in government, we have also made progress in strengthening agricultural institutions, improving drainage and irrigation, providing incentives to boost production and diversification, conducting country-wide engagements with farmers and enhancing the business environment to drive agricultural growth.
Our mission over the next 10 years is to secure an expanded, diversified and modernised, resilient and competitive sector:
- The expansion of the production sector will be propelled by investments in large-scale cultivation, including in soya and corn, which are feed inputs, and the thousands of acres of new lands for cultivation;
- Local agriculture will be made more resilient by the development of high-yielding, pest-resistant and climate-resilient crop varieties;
- Modernisation will involve the establishment of modern farms and increased use of technology and more efficient farm practices;
- Diversification will include promoting increased aquaculture and through the cultivation of new crops; and
- Guyana is also pursuing an aggressive campaign to dismantle restrictive regional barriers to the trade in agricultural produce to foster increased agricultural exports and stimulate more production.
Guyana intends to become the agricultural heartland of the English-speaking Caribbean and play its part in helping the Caribbean Community reduce its food import bill by 25% by 2025.
The development of local agriculture is also pivotal to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the recently concluded UN Food Systems Summit, Guyana committed to focusing on concrete actions to build more sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems and to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.
The envisaged transformation of local agriculture will involve an inclusive approach, which will include the active participation of the government and the private sector, and continued engagements with farmers, agriculturalists, agronomists, veterinarians, food exporters, importers, academia, the scientific community, and other stakeholders.
Guyana’s agriculture sector is on a transformative pathway. An exciting future lies ahead. Agriculture Month 2021 is an opportunity for us to plan and prepare for that future.
Happy Agriculture Month 2021!