Guyana seeking agro-investors in the US

Caribbean Net News | Friday, November 28, 2008

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: As the Caribbean and the rest of the world are still grappling with the global food crisis, Guyana is seeking to sell its vast land and water resources to United States investors as an area suitable for agriculture and aquaculture investment.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, addressing a recent Agro-Business Investment Seminar and Mini Exhibition Forum in New York, with the aim of attracting investors, advised that the aquaculture sector is a good area for investment as the rate of returns is higher when compared with other agricultural ventures.

Speaking at the Naresa's Palace, South Ozone Park , New York , Jagdeo explained to the gathering the importance of agriculture to Guyana’s economy and investment opportunities that exist in the sector and about the current economic climate in the country.

He advised the audience in what ventures they could put their money into, based on the research done by an international consultancy firm, McKinsey.

“It’s probably one of the largest consultancy firms in the world; they looked at the return on various activities on one hectare of land. Aquaculture gives you higher return, fruits and vegetable versus maybe another area if you were to invest namely in maybe rice. Doing aquaculture on one hectare of land is twice that of doing rice on the same acre of land. So I want more people coming into aquaculture,” the Head of State asserted.

“So people who are looking over that period maybe medium to long - term should start thinking about making investments in these areas, and as I said before, the land is not going to always be there because there are many, many competing demands for the land.”

Jagdeo who is lead Head for agriculture in CARICOM, outlined the difficulties faced by some of the group’s members earlier this year when food prices spiraled, and which he said, for the first time caused a renewed focus on agriculture and will continue to do so.

Jagdeo said that Guyana is unique in that in the near future it will have all the attributes where it can generate and even produce food which will be in increasing demand. Prices too, will go up, he noted.

Jagdeo says his government has been engaged for a significant while on ‘generation reforms’ where, from an unstable macroeconomic situation, triple digit inflation, huge fiscal deficit, huge debt, among others, he explained that Guyana has managed to achieve stable macro economic fundamentals.

“The first generation reforms were also done in infrastructure. So if you come to Guyana today you would see that a lot more has been done in roads, power. We still have a lot of issues, we still have a long way to go, bridges etc. that will support... investment, education and health care and a number of other things.”

Guyana, he said has reached a stage where it needs to move to a second generation level of reforms.

“Reforms that are more quality, reforms that are more direct. Many people talk about land availability and if you talk maybe 10 years ago, we didn’t have a clue opening some areas because for 30 years we have had land given out to people – some sold, some leased, some given out as leases without any record keeping,” the President noted.

He indicated that another generation of reform will deal with facilities as he pointed to the closure of a bid for hydro power that is to supply the country with electricity.

“I hope that everything goes well. We have concluded this agreement, the bids came in a bit high, but let’s see if there would be adjustment … If that happens we may be able to conclude the deal before the end of the year to start building that hydro.”

Jagdeo told potential investors that he has instructed that the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), take about one week to process investment applications and to set up a dedicated desk which will assist persons in ensuring that they have all the requisite information.

“I said to GO-Invest, make sure the requirements are clear and in the beginning don’t accept the application until the requirements are clear... it’s all about processing.”

He cautioned, however, that government would not be committing land to people who are not serious.

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