“Gainful employment must be guaranteed with new investments” – Minister Mustapha to French delegation

– French investors looking to expand agro-processing capabilities
– Hopes to develop organic farm in Guyana

Minister of Agriculture, Hon.  Zulfikar Mustapha, today met a delegation comprising French investors and representatives from the French Defence attaché to Suriname and Guyana and the French Development Agency (FDA), to discuss several developments for the Agriculture sector.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha is pictured with the delegation and other officials from the Ministry of Agriculture

During the meeting, the team discussed their plans to invest in the development of organic farms to cultivate pineapples and other fruits to supply international markets, through the production of value-added products.

Managing Director of Amazon Caribbean Guyana Limited, Christophe Sureau, said the aim of the company is to tap into Regional and International Markets looking to purchase organic commodities.

“We have been engaging with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to acquire additional lands to develop an organic farm. We can acquire certification but we need these lands in areas that have not been exposed to any type of intensive farming where chemicals were used. If we plant on lands that have traces of chemical exposure, we can lose that certification. We want to start with pineapples. We will also establish other crops like mangoes, pawpaw and guava. We have the market for these products. It’s just the question of getting the raw material to supply the production,” Mr. Sureau said.

Amazon Caribbean Guyana has its farm at Herstelling on the East Bank of Demerara and its factory at Rosignol, Berbice, where they process pineapples into juices and fruit cocktails for export. Since they commenced their operations, they were able to employ over 300 persons, but due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, they were forced to cease operations and send their staff home.

“Even though we had put systems in place to ensure the safety of our employees during the pandemic, the impact it had on the export market is what forced us to lay off the employees. Because, at the moment, our products are solely for export, our shipments for the remainder of the year were cancelled and we were unable to pay the persons who worked at the factories. We are hoping to commence operations in January and all of the staff will be rehired. With the expansion, we will also be able to hire additional staff,” Mr. Sureau added.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha while applauding the company for its progress thus far, said that he welcomes investments that result in development and gainful employment for the citizens of the country.

“As Minister of Agriculture, I welcome investments and if you notice, I’ve been asking about employment because that is the main focus of this Government; to ensure investments equal employment for our people. If people are employed, the society will be developed. So, we will be working with you to see how best we can help you during this process,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister also thanked the team for the role the European Union (EU) played in restoring democracy to Guyana during the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

“Our democracy was threatened and was about to be stolen. Because of the pressure applied by the EU and countries like France locally, we were able to restore our democratic rights. Government is working to develop mechanisms to ensure what took place from March 2nd to August 2nd doesn’t happen again,” Minister Mustapha said.   

The representative from the French Development Agency also informed Minister Zulfikar of the role of the Agency.

“We support development projects in different countries where we have interventions. The agency basically finances and supports projects in different areas. We propose financing according to the priority and the needs of the country. We have financial tools that adapt to the needs of the country in the forms of loans and grants. Our main objectives in Guyana are in the areas of environmental protection and energy consecration and linking those projects with other sectors, for example agriculture,” the Representative said.

The team is expected to return to Guyana shortly when they will have another series of meetings with other Government officials to discuss areas for development.