$28.7B budgeted to further advance food sector

Over $28.7 billion will be exhausted this year to ensure the rapid growth and development in Guyana’s agriculture sector.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said government wants to ramp up domestic production, agro-processing capabilities and work to remove historic barriers and impediments to intra-regional trade.

To this end, Dr. Singh announced a comprehensive fiscal package in the National Assembly on Wednesday, which he said will advance the PPP/C Administration’s holistic plans for the food sector.

He said some $6 billion is allocated to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to turn around the industry’s field and factory operations. The investment includes money for the Albion, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt factories, and ensuring the industry produces more value-added products for domestic and international markets.

Guyanese could expect massive drainage and irrigation upgrades also with a whopping $13 billion set aside to strengthen drainage systems across Guyana.

Over $1 billion will go towards procuring 37 new mobile pumps to be installed along the coast, in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six, in areas identified to be vulnerable to flooding.

The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) will expend some $300 million in plant breeding, agronomy, plant pathology, entomology and valued-added products as part of its research and development thrust.

“…budget 2022 provides a sum of $200 million to introduce and develop marine cage fishing which will enhance the production of prawns and tilapia. This will provide an important alternative production modality for Guyana’s fisherfolk,” the minister added.

Additionally, $20 million is budgeted for the procurement of a seed dryer for Black Bush Polder, which will benefit more than 600 rice farmers in the area.

The sum of $426 million is budgeted to complete the 47- kilometre, Ituni-Tacama farm -to- market road.

A sum of $100 million will go towards the newly launched Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme (AIEP). The first phase will see the construction of 25 shade houses for high-value crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Meanwhile, some $96.5 million has been allocated to equip the New Guyana Marketing Corporation’s (GMC) Sophia, Parika and Mabaruma agro-processing and packaging facilities.

The New GMC intends to decentralise the one-stop agri- business incubators in Regions Three, Five, Nine and 10 at Parika, Fort Wellington, St. Ignatius and Watooka, respectively.

Further, a total of $66 million is earmarked to support the expansion of the market for coconut water and coconut-based products.

“This allocation will support: the expansion of coconut cultivation and production, with decentralised and strengthened services to farmers; the establishment of three additional nurseries at Hosororo, Fort Wellington and Lethem, bringing a total of decentralised nurseries to nine across Guyana; and the expansion of seedling production to 36,000 in 2022,” the finance minister disclosed.

He stated that the nation is committed to the Caricom 25 by 25 initiative, which aims to cut the extra-regional food import bill by 2025.