By Staff Writer
President Irfaan Ali launched, on Tuesday, the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs.
During the launch which was held at Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the President said the programme paves the way for the provision of all the resources and materials by government to develop 25 shade houses in the first phase that will be used to house thousands of high-value crops such as broccoli and cauliflower.
The Head of State said the project would be done through interagency and inter-ministry support systems that will see collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport; the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce; the Joint Services, among other groups.
The President said that according to data, the shade house production per cycle is expected to be 3000 pounds, and with three cycles per annum. He said it would eventually move to approximately 9000 pounds per year.
The wholesale value of this, he said, is $57 million, while the retail value stands at approximately $112 million.
“So you are talking here about a business that can generate in a net sense using these three costs, close to $60 to $70 million annually.”
The President emphasised that the programme will be expanded in the future to have about 300 shade houses across the country.
These shade houses, he noted, will be managed by past and present agriculture students who will form themselves into a company, with each becoming a shareholder.
In addition, the President said an advisory committee would assist them in setting up and coordinating their company and operations. They are also expected to manage their business on a rotational basis.
“What will take Guyana forward is what we are doing here; building responsible leadership and having young people lead in that responsible leadership because you are the ones who will inherit this Guyana that we want to build, and you have to be a key part of building that responsible leadership.”
The Head of State noted that the aim is to link the country’s food security strategy to the regional food security system as Guyana continues to develop its agricultural potential.
“So while we’re working on one hand to expand local production for the local market, we are already eliminating the barriers to the regional markets, so that we are going to expand this progressively until we are able to reach into the regional market also. So you have to see yourselves as part of a regional system and part of the local system.”
The President also highlighted the importance of agriculture and its link to entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, innovation and technology, sustainability and increasing local content.
Guyana Standard understands that the launch of the programme was attended by dozens of young people in the agriculture sector who are either currently studying or have already graduated.