By Staff Writer
The PPP/C Government’s Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme, which was launched by President, Irfaan Ali on Tuesday, is expected to wipe out Guyana’s $2.6B import bill for broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
The Head of State said the programme which was introduced to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs, will allow for the creation of 25 shade houses that will be managed on a rotational basis by graduates of the Guyana School of Agriculture and will be used for the cultivation of the said crops to meet domestic demand, and eventually, service regional demand.
President Ali said, “…We will invest in all the materials needed and the Chief of Staff will lend us his human resources to make this project a success. There is a section in the army and even in the police force that deals with this. The Guyana Prison Services will also all help us with the labour and establishing the infrastructure. And this is not an experiment because it is already working in Guyana.”
In this regard, the President highlighted that in Mahaica, farmers are producing broccoli and cauliflower the size what is imported.
Ali further noted that an advisory committee comprising the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport; the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce; and the Joint Services, among other groups; is going to work directly with bringing youths on board to create this “transformational” vehicle that will take all of Guyana forward.
“So we are not taking young people for granted. We will be going to every single region with this. All of this will come under a programme called Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme—Shade house, Hydroponics and Vertical Agriculture. So that is the programme that we are going to look at.”
Speaking to the numbers, Ali noted the value of imports for broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, the Head of State said in 2018, import value for the three foreign vegetables was $1.5B in 2019, $1.9B and 2021 in, $2.6B.
Ali said these are unbelievable figures since no money is even needed for marketing hence his move to have the programme in place, the first phase of which is expected to make the country self-sufficient in this regard.
Ali said the wholesale value of this project is $57M and retail value is pegged at $112M. “…So you are talking about a business that can generate using in a net sense, close to $60 to $70M annually and there are not many businesses from a medium scale in the private sector that can’t generate this and this is just phase one… This is the plan that we have and the work now begins.”