Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, today met with representatives from the Islamic Development Bank to discuss agriculture development projects that are of top priority in the agriculture sector. Projects were prioritised based on the agriculture ministry being able to complete them by the end of 2017 as the Islamic Development Bank is looking to include these projects in their 2017 budget. The establishment of a dairy plant was highlighted as the major project while suggestions for a fruit processing plant and infrastructural works to be done in the Intermediate Savannahs to facilitate agricultural development in the hinterland region were also mentioned.
Given the high import bill Guyana has for dairy products and bi-products, a dairy plant was at the top of the list for consideration for investment. Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, stated that, at this point in time, a dairy plant would see immediate returns for the country. “Dairy products has one of the highest import bills. If we establish a dairy plant, we would be able to supply milk to schools, hospitals, the army and other organisations. We have also taken into consideration the importance of having the plant in an area where the infrastructure and the market already exists. You must build the dairy plant where the market is rather than where the production is.” Minister Holder said.
Senior Country Program Manager for the Islamic Development Bank, Mr. Saifullah Abid, said that the bank supports integration between its member countries. “The mandate of the Islamic Development Bank is to promote and foster socioeconomic development in our member countries.” Mr. Abid said.
Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Project Cycle Management Division Director at the Ministry of Finance, made mention of having a processing plant for fruit crops. “We have many fruit crops that go to waste. We have been looking for parties to commercialise and develop these commodities. If there is investment in a fruit processing plant, we will be able to cut down on wastage and add to the agro-processing sector.” Mr. Balgobin said. Agro-processing continues to develop and is a major contributor to Guyana’s GDP.
Minister Holder’s vision for agricultural development involves moving Guyana’s agricultural base inland given that most of Guyana’s agricultural activities are practices on the coast and the immense negative effects of climate change.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis, stressed on the need for major investments to further foster development in the industry. “The areas that have land for these major projects lack proper infrastructure. There is a great need for investments in roads to access these areas.” Mr. Jervis said. Adding to that, Minister Holder stated that having a road system put in place would see agricultural development in the interior regions being able to realise its full potential.
Additionally, Mr. Mohammad J. Alsaati, the Special Advisor to the Vice President, Director of Country Programs Department of the Islamic Development Bank, mentioned that the bank will be having a team of experts in Suriname to look at developmental programs in rice and livestock and hope to have the team come to Guyana to meet with representatives of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority and the Guyana Rice Development Board to offer advice to further develop the sectors.
The ministry is expected to present a draft document of the plans for the dairy plant to the Islamic Bank Representatives by the end of next week in order for funding for this project to be considered.
Present at the meeting was Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Jaipaul Sharma, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis, CEO of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority, Mr. Nigel Cumberbatch, Project Cycle Management Division Director at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Senior Country Program Manager for the Islamic Development Bank, Mr. Saifullah Abid and Mr. Mohammad J. Alsaati, the Special Advisor to the Vice President, Director of Country Programs Department of the Islamic Development Bank.