MoU signed to further develop Guyana’s agri-tourism policy

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha MP and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond MP on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which seeks to further develop the Agri-Tourism Policy in Guyana.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and Minister Oneidge Walrond while signing the agri-tourism MoU

During the signing ceremony, Minister Mustapha said the MoU establishes a shared ambition between the two ministries in an effort to collaborate, coordinate and implement the development of the Agri-Tourism Policy in Guyana.

“This MoU stemmed from a recommendation that was made during last year’s Agri-Tourism Week. It establishes a shared ambition between our two Ministries to collaborate, coordinate and implement the development of the Agri-Tourism Policy and roadmap, thereby creating an enabling environment for our agri-tourism operators,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

Minister Mustapha also said agri-tourism acts as a mechanism for diversification and income generation for farmers. This, he said, would be achieved through on-farm activities that would help to maintain the viability of farms and rural communities.

“Guyana has long had one of the largest agricultural economies and a very high potential of becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean. In 2020, the agriculture sector accounted for 27.1 per cent of Guyana’s non-oil GDP despite the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of farmers, fishers, vendors of agriculture inputs, and food traders. Agri-tourism, therefore offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income from on-farm tourism activities in order to help supplement their agricultural income and maintain the viability of farms and rural communities” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha also expressed thanks to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for its role in assisting with the process.

Meanwhile, Minister Walrond said, if managed sustainably, both the agriculture and tourism products can exist for a long time.

“The agriculture and tourism sectors are of strategic importance to Guyana’s development. Managed sustainably, both our agriculture and tourism products can be with us long after the last barrel of oil is extracted. It is, therefore, incumbent on us today to use the opportunity provided by the petroleum bounty to build the foundation of a diversified economy that will persist when that bounty at whatever time must be inevitably be exhausted,” Minister Walrond said. 

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

IICA’s Country Representative, Wilmot Garnett said in order for the agri-tourism sector to move forward, partnerships and alliances must be built at both the public and private sector levels.

“We are of the strong belief that for the sector to move forward, partnerships and alliances must be built at public and private sector levels, and at both national and regional levels, with the objective of strengthening the policy and institutional framework, in support of increasing agritourism trade linkages and rural tourism development.  In this regard, IICA, has since 2002, had a focused programme on agri-tourism in the Caribbean Region, as part of a larger hemispheric programme in Latin America and the Caribbean. We have been working to strengthen the capacities, the institutions, the policies and the planning processes necessary to better manage the market value chains, on which the sector depends, and to respond to environmental changes within the sector,” Garnett said.

Minister of Agriculture and Tourism, Industry and Commerce with other officials during the signing of the MoU

Further, Executive Director of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, Trina Butts while offering brief remarks said agriculture benefits locals while providing the tourism and hospitality industry with the resources for several activities while serving as a background to the attraction of Guyana’s rural environment. These linkages, she added, directly or indirectly benefit multiple stakeholders and enhances the supply chain.

Since taking office, the Government has signaled its intention to develop Guyana’s agri-tourism industry. Farmers across the country are therefore being encouraged to capitalise on the benefits of agri-tourism as an additional source of revenue and an overall boost to the country’s economy.