Despite the severe contraction of sugar production by 25.2 percent in 2018, the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector on a whole is expected to grow by 1.1 percent, better than the 0.4 percent recorded in 2017.
This is according to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, who made the forecast during his delivery of the 2019 National Budget.
Speaking on the agriculture, fishing, and forestry sectors, Minister Jordan said that “solid performances” are expected for livestock, other crops, forestry, and rice.
According to Jordan, the sugar industry,in particular, has been given a new opportunity for viability with restructured cost profiles. He noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) is now charged with managing the operations of the Albion, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt estates, which will all be recapitalized as part of the Sugar Task Force’s three year plan for GUYSUCO. As a result, he said, production in the coming years is expected to rise from a low 98,000 tonnes by the end of 2018 to nearly 145,000 tonnes by 2021. He emphasized that the industry is attempting to come to terms with operating in the 21st century.
Jordan said, the rice industry has been making commendable strides with adapting to modern times. The Finance Minister attributed the expected 0.2 percent growth for the year to the introduction of a new and higher-yielding variety known as GRDB-15 in time for the second crop of 2018 along with improved practices and domestic prices.
He further noted that there is a battle with high food import bill, despite fertile soils and water in Guyana. Jordan added that farmers have increased their production of both traditional and non-traditional crops, resulting in an increase of the export of fruits and vegetables by 5.9 percent by the third quarter, when compared to the same period in 2017. Growth in the other crops sector is expected to rise in the last quarter to 5 percent.
The Minister told the National Assembly that the livestock sector has “rebounded”, with production at the end of June standing at 29.1 percent, compared to the same period in 2017.
He said thag the absence of chicken shortages, negating the need for the issuance of import licenses thus far in 2018, “testifies to Guyana being on the right path to self-sufficiency in chicken production”.
Jordan further said that higher beef, pork, and mutton production, along with better quality and enhanced practices, also contributed to growth in this sector at mid-year and is likely to lead to similar gains in the second half of the year. As such, he said, the sector is expected to grow by 21.1 percent this year.
Jordan said that the fishing industry saw “mixed results” by half-year. While he noted that there was growth of 5.6 percent at the end of June 2018, growth is expected to decline by the performance of other categories of fish besides fin-fish, resulting in a decline of 1.9 percent in the fishing industry.
The 2019 National Budget is being presented under the theme, “transforming the economy, empowering people, building sustainable communities for the good life.