Guyana has seen unprecedented growth since the commencement of oil production in December 2019. The significant Stabroek Block discoveries have put the country on the global radar. But even as the country remains excited about its accelerated growth, citizens must remember that agriculture is the backbone of the country.
This was the contention of Chair of the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC), Indra Chandarpal, while delivering her speech at the recently held Women in Agriculture conference. The event was held in honour of International Women’s Day 2023, with a keen focus on the under-participation of women in the sector.
While addressing the attendees she said, “You know, all of you are aware of the fact that Guyana is at the cusp of- I will say a very exciting journey in our development.” She further emphasized that while discoveries were made in the nation’s esteemed Stabroek Block since 2015, the country has always known that there was oil. But, it has also been known that agriculture is the backbone of the nation’s development, the women’s leader said.
During the conference, it was also noted that Guyana is one of the few Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that is not a net food importer. At least seven of the countries in CARICOM import more than 80 per cent of the food they consume.
The WGEC Chair also emphasised that with the cost of living rising globally, it is now more important for the country’s agriculture sector to thrive. “The cost of living has gone up and putting food on the table can be challenging for many families,” she noted. Chandarpal added, “We believe the way to deal with this issue is to plant our kitchen garden and do things for ourselves.”
Since the conference was women-focused, she charged them to participate in the male-dominated sector, adding that it will enable them to feed their families and foster entrepreneurial development.
It must be noted that in keeping with its vision to strengthen Guyana’s non-oil economy and prevent dependency on petroleum revenues, the government has been active in the execution of key investments in the agriculture sector. In this year’s budget, $33.2 billion was allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture for a series of development projects and undertakings in the sector.
Several multibillion contracts have been inked already to further the development of the sector.