Public, private investments critical to Guyana’s Agriculture development
-Foreign Secretary tells IICA seminar
Foreign Secretary, Mr. Robert Persaud has said public and private investments are critical to the expansion of Guyana’s Agriculture sector, even as Government moves to redesign the policies of the industry.
Mr. Persaud said foreign markets are also important in allowing Guyana to access commodities and services which it has the resources to produce.
And with the advent of the oil and gas industry, Mr. Persaud believes too that this will spur the development in the Agriculture sector, given the demands in shipments and possible population growth.
He made these remarks Tuesday during a virtual seminar hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), to discuss measures to increase intra and extra regional trade for Guyana.
In his presentation, Mr. Persaud explained that challenges relating to food safety measures are areas of grave concern for Guyana, given its inadequate scientific capacity to undertake some of the required testing.
He said the use of subsidies, unfair trading practices through dumping, and limited transportation connectivity among CARICOM countries, are critical challenges associated with foreign trading partners and limit gains that can be achieved by trade.
The local challenges include poor farm to market road transportation networks, port facilities, limited access to finance, lack of sufficient cold storage facilities, high energy coast and inadequately developed lands and taxes.
The Foreign Secretary told the panelist that there are opportunities in a range of sectors here, including food processing and livestock development.
“The Government of Guyana today is very supportive of investors, be it in the Guyanese diaspora, CARICOM, or further afield,” he added.
Further, he said through cross boarder investments, Guyana can also contribute to the region’s aim by reducing its food import bill by 25 per cent within five years.
He highlighted several key policy mechanisms which are underway that could provide support to the sector. Among those are the soon to be launched trade strategy, a trade policy consultative mechanism to receive and respond to concerns, the National Food Safety Authority that is set to commence operation by February, fiscal incentives for export-oriented industries, and development of the gas to power and hydro energy facilities.
With the PPP/C Government at the helm, Guyana is among the few countries poised for significant growth in Agriculture. The sector plays a substantial role and accounts for 25 per cent of the country’s GDP and 17 per cent of employment.
Thirty per cent of Guyana’s earnings are associated with the export of food and agriculture products including rice, sugar, and fisheries.