A team of investors from Palnorte, a company that owns and operates palm oil mills in Colombia, met with Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of establishing a local palm oil industry.
Over the last two years, there has been an influx of overseas companies signaling their interest in establishing new industries in Guyana. Only recently, the ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a company from Israel that will see the establishment of a massive hydroponic project for the production of fresh herbs, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables as well as other high-value crops.
During the meeting, Minister Mustapha said that the government has declared Guyana open for business and was prepared to work with both the local and overseas-based private sector companies to develop sectors such as the agriculture sector. He further noted that the government has also made it clear that Guyanese will be the ultimate beneficiaries given the fact that such projects are intended to support long-term development within the agriculture sector.
Although Guyana was once a producer of palm oil, the industry has been dormant for many years as no new plantations have been developed in decades.
According to grandviewresearch.com, the global palm oil market will be valued at USD 66.44 billion at the end of 2022 and is expected to increase to USD 98.9 billion by 2030. The market is said to be driven by exponentially growing demand from the food, beverage, biofuel, energy, personal care, and cosmetics industries.
An oil palm tree will begin bearing nuts three to four years after it is planted and has a life span of between 25 to 30 years before its production levels begin to decline.
Since taking office, the government has been working to further develop and diversify Guyana’s agriculture sector in a bid to lower the national food import bill. These efforts are in keeping with CARICOM’s Vision 20 by 2025 agenda.
Earlier this year, President Dr. Irfaan Ali disclosed that he held bilateral discussions that could see Guyana producing coffee and palm oil, while both countries boost their agricultural sectors through mutual learning and shared opportunities with the President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei Falla at a Central American and Caribbean summit.
While addressing media operatives, the Head of Stated said “We’re talking about helping us to revitalize, improve coffee production in Guyana (and) other high-value crops like palm oil,”.
Minister Mustapha also said, in addition to it being a lucrative industry, the cultivation of oil palm trees will also contribute to promoting Guyana’s green agenda as the crop when mature is said to capture as much carbon dioxide as a rainforest tree.
“1 hectare of palm oil is said to collect approximately 30 tons of carbon dioxide and releases 21 tons of oxygen yearly,” the minister added.