Guyana offers lands to help Caribbean regional food security

Bernama | 13 March 2014
Guyana's President Donald Ramotar says thet "the offer is still on the table" to all CARICOM countries to take advantage of Guyana's bountiful agricultural resources.

Guyana offers lands to help Caribbean regional food security

Guyana's President Donald Ramotar has maintained that his country's position in the call for political, entrepreneurial, and popular will to achieve food security in the Caribbean Region still stands.

This was made clear by Ramotar during the closing press conference after the 25th CARICOM Heads Inter-Sessional Meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Guyana has been described as the potential food basket of the Caribbean, and former President Bharat Jagdeo who held responsibility for regional agriculture had made an open offer to all CARICOM countries to take advantage of Guyana's bountiful agricultural resources.

Agriculture remains one of the pillars of development in Guyana and the country has about 3.3 million hectares of available agricultural lands. About 500,000 hectares is being used for rice, sugar and cash crop cultivation.

President Ramotar stated that, "the offer is still on the table." He described the new Santa Fe project in Region Nine as a large investment by Barbados, in which rice is being planted on a large scale.

He added also that the Trinidad and Tobago Government has been showing more and more interest in that regard and indicating that they will take up the offer in order to go into agricultural products.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two countries whereby land will be made available to investors and farmers for agriculture development.

The Head of State also outlined Guyana's plans for looking at new investments for big crops in the southern part of the country, and for building new schemes.

During July 2013, at the University of the West Indies, President Ramotar had commended the Jagdeo Initiative for accelerating development in the agriculture sector of the Region.

He had explained that the estimated regional food import bill of between US$3 billion and US$5 billion, represents $3 billion worth of business opportunity for Caribbean producers.

"Were the Region able to meet this requirement through domestic production, this would represent billions of dollars of investment in our Region, tens of thousands of jobs for Caribbean people, hundreds of growing and increasingly profitable Caribbean business enterprises, billions of dollars of avoided imports every year, therefore improving our external balances," he explained.

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