Gov’t ramps up high-value crop production to bolster food security initiatives

Guyana’s commitment to realising the regional 25 by 2025 vision is underscored by a strategic focus on expanding domestic production to access local, regional, and international markets. Dr. Richard Blair, an Advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture, emphasised transformative initiatives during a food security panel at the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum.

Within the framework of an economy poised for rapid expansion, a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report forecasts Guyana’s GDP growth at 38.4 per cent in 2023 and 26.6 per cent in 2024.

Dr. Richard Blair, Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture

In 2022, Guyana achieved the world’s highest real GDP growth at 62.3 per cent, creating an environment conducive to increased and diversified agricultural ventures.

Dr. Blair highlighted the rapid development of Guyana’s corn and soya industry, emphasizing its crucial role in expanding the poultry sector.

He noted, “Poultry is among the most important protein sources for this region,” highlighting incentives for corn and soya bean producers on 85,000 acres of available land.

The government has invested $1 billion over two years to enhance accessibility to 61,000 hectares of farmland in Tacama, including road construction and a drying and storage facility to minimise post-harvest losses. Further support includes a planned $150 million investment in a Tacama wharf for critical riverine access.

In the fruits and vegetables sector, Guyana offers lucrative opportunities for commercial cultivation, including orchard farming targeting fruits like cherries, guava, and soursop.

The CARICOM shadehouse project, supported by a $2 million commitment from Guyana, focuses on rolling out 1,000 shade houses to enhance regional agricultural capabilities.

The project, under the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme (AIEP), involves significant youth participation, employing 100 youth in producing high-value crops. Dr. Blair highlighted the project’s aim to build expertise, advance food security goals, and stimulate interest in agriculture among the younger generation.

Guyana’s aquaculture sector holds promise, particularly in lucrative markets like brackish water shrimp and prawns. Dr. Blair asserted the government’s commitment to an aquaculture programme, importing technology and resources to establish a commercial-scale sector for international markets through shrimp hatchery, fish and shrimp processing, and feed production facilities.