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─ $9Billion to assist with D&I

─ $112.9Million to aid rice farmers

─ no more VAT on fertilisers, agro-chemicals and pesticides

After struggling for the last five years, Guyana’s Agriculture Sector is set for a major boost as $18.4Billion is being pumped into the sector to aid in revitalising and revamping the industry, as the PPP/C Administration plans to waste no time in fulfilling its mandate.

During the presentation of the 2020 budget in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Public Works Minister, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill announced that from the grand total, some $9Billion will be channeled towards improving Drainage and Irrigation (D&I) across the nation.

Farmlands in excess of 1,200 acres in West Watooka, Region 10 will benefit from D&I works this year; while works for the design of pump stations at Cottage, Adventure, and Andrew, will commence.

“The design of farm-to-market roads, with the intention of upgrading the existing mud dam access to farm-to-market access roads at Villages 52-58, Region 6, Right Bank Mahaicony. Left Bank Mahaica, and Salem, Region 3 [will become a reality]. Further, our drainage capacity will be bolstered this year with the installation of 12 high capacity drainage pumps for Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6,” Minister Edghill stated.

Rice

Rendering full support to farmers and millers with the aim of expanding the rice industry, government has decided to reverse increases in land lease fees for lands under cultivation, and land taxes and drainage and irrigation charges, back to their 2014 positions.

A $112.9Million has been injected into the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority. This fund is expected to improve drainage and irrigation works within the area and bring additional lands to a usable state.

“The Guyana Rice Development Board will continue to expand and secure new markets for paddy and other by-products; increase productivity through research and development into new strains, and robust pest control measures; continue seed paddy production with enhanced extension and quality control; and, involve all stakeholders, working together to increase productivity.”

Fisheries

The subvention to the Agri-ministry will also provide much needed support to the fisheries Department. It is expected to intensify the monitoring and surveillance capabilities, and promote sustainable fishing through improved management.

Minister Edghill said too that emphasis will be placed on working to revert the US ban on Catfish.

Other crops

Meanwhile, due to the impact of COVID-19, the income of farmers has reduced significantly. In an effort to provide some relief to the farmers, there has been a removal of Valued Added Tax (VAT) on fertilisers, agro-chemicals and pesticides.

“The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) in a quest to reduce the cost of inputs and at the same time promote climate-smart agriculture, will expend $15.8Million for the acquisition of shade house materials and sprinkler hoses. NAREI will sell the materials to farmers at cost price, saving farmers over 33 percent ($5Million). The monies from this investment will be utilized as a revolving fund for future purchases of required materials for farmers,” Minister Edghill added.

He said government will continue to promote agricultural diversification with a focus on coconut, and horticulture by engaging NAREI and the Hope Coconut Estate. The coconut industry will be given prominence by promoting expansion in acreages, inter-cropping, utilisation of coconut by-products, and increasing production and productivity.

Livestock

Further, Minister Edghill noted that there will be continued investment in the development of the livestock industry ─ ensuring there is sufficient throughput in the sector for food and nutrition security and for market demand. Emphasis will be on improving genetic and research capacity of farms, and interventions to provide appropriate breed stock.

“We are moving to improve standards and bring down production costs in this industry. To this end, we will continue projects such as the abattoir at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice, and review other projects in the pipeline in order to prioritise those most transformative for the sector. With regards to reducing production costs, we have already removed VAT on key inputs in the poultry industry, in addition to reverting it to zero-rated status, and created incentives for the production of corn and soybeans, key feedstock inputs.”

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