It is my firm belief that it is important for everyone to be aware of the fact that agriculture is currently the world’s leading employer and plays a vital role in the livelihood of 40% of its population. In Guyana, we are fortunate to have an agriculture sector that is both strong and well structured. Credit must be given to the Government of Guyana and Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in particular, which showed both commitment and wisdom in investing and creating favorable pathways for continued development of the sector over the past four years.
I am both pleased and impressed that the new management of Hope Coconut Industries Limited (HCIL) took advantage of the favorable environment that was created by the MOA to work towards making the estate sustainable and less dependent on Government’s subvention for its day to day management.
The major setbacks the estate suffered under mismanagement by the PPP led Government cannot be swept under the carpet. The estate was hemorrhaging badly and almost went bankrupt. Staff at one time were not paid their monthly salaries for months. All the basic infrastructures were in a state of total collapse and corruption was rampant. However, we should put these unfortunate occurrences behind us and look positively towards the future.
Currently, I must acknowledge the fact that the financial future for HCIL is bright. As a direct result of prudent management of its resources and systems put in place by the MOA, the annual income of the estate has leaped from G$17 million in 2015 to G$36million in 2019. This resulted in a 47% increase in income.
In its wisdom, the current government over the past 4 years, invested significant financial and human resources to improve the crippling infrastructure at Hope Estate. The aim of this intervention was to better serve farmers’ needs, most of whom are small producers and risk takers. As a direct result of these interventions, today the tides have turned for the better. Several bridges, dams, main access road, the entire D&I system, extension and repairs of the main office building, establishing of a vibrant coconut nursery and coconut demonstration plot – to name a few are now up and running for the benefit of stakeholder of Hope Estate.
The year 2019 was good for HCIL. Much needed improvements were made, especially in the area of improving its infrastructure. It is important to mention that the estate has embarked on projects that are economically smart, environmentally safe and agronomically sound. Its highly successful coconut nursery, which continues to serve farmers’ needs and is currently one of HCIL ‘s main income streams as well as the extension of its Head Office Building should be commended. The estate is expected to perform even better in 2020. This is because the MOA has in its plan to provide HCIL with a few critical pieces of equipment as well as an excavator which will be used full time to improve the D & I systems that are so critical for production. In addition, a mechanical pump, which is currently under construction at a cost of over G$ 200 million is expected to become fully operational in the first quarter of 2020. This will significantly reduce the occurrence of flooding at Hope Estate. Farmers and stakeholders can be assured that these interventions will aid in the transition journey of the estate towards sustainability and improved services.
The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to provide the necessary guidance to both the management of HCIL and farmers to bring back the estate from disarray and neglect to profitability. We are committed, and will work assiduously, to ensure the value chain at HCIL becomes more productive, efficient, profitable and, critically, more inclusive. I wish to take this opportunity to encourage all producers to look seriously at adopting innovative agricultural technologies that are yield enhancing. This, if adopted and implemented correctly, can result in increased production and productivity. I firmly belief that with the required assistance farmers would be incentivized to work both harder and smarter for their own benefit and the benefit of our agricultural sector in particular as well as the nation’s welfare in general.
Hon. Noel Holder M.P.
Minister of Agriculture