From left – Guyana’s Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud, Couva Chamber President Mukesh Ramsingh, and Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha. (Image by SHASTRI BOODAN)

SHASTRI BOODAN

The Guyanese Government has called on Trinidad and Tobago investors to capitalize on investment opportunities in that country’s agricultural sector.

This announcement was made by Zulfikar Mustapha, Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, as he addressed the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday 23 March 2022.

Minister Mustapha said the region can capitalize on the 30 percent predicted shortfall of agricultural production caused by the Russian-Ukraine war, noting that regional countries are expressing a desire to reduce their annual food import bills.

“What is happening in Ukraine and Russia will reduce production further, for example wheat production would be reduced by 30 percent this year. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN) has concluded that food production will fall short by almost 30 percent this year. If the world will fall short by 30 percent in food production this year, then there are a lot of opportunities that you can invest in, not only in T&T, but Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean.” 

Minister Mustapha noted that the region can become self-sufficient in poultry production but has to import products from outside of the region. He said as a result, Guyana plans to plant two crops of corn and soya annually on 25,000 acres by 2025, which he said would make Guyana self-sufficient in feed production. He invited individuals and companies to invest in rice, sugar and downstream agro processing.

“Not only does Guyana want to be a primary agriculture producer, we also want to create value added products for domestic, regional and Latin American markets,” Guyana’s agriculture minister said. 

“In addition, Guyana is developing the infrastructure for transportation that would link Guyana with Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana where he said the market far exceeds the Caribbean region,” he said.

Minister Mustapha said Guyana also is working on massive drainage infrastructure that would mitigate flooding. He said last year’s heavy rainfall caused extensive damage to agriculture and the Guyanese government had to pump over $7 billion to revitalize the sector. 

“Additional burdens placed on the back of investors and farmers were reduced,” he explained.  “Land rental charges were slashed by $11,500 an acre. There is no VAT and import duty on agricultural machinery and equipment.”

“Several agriculture fees were reverted to pre-2015 rates,” he added.

Minister Mustapha also invited investors to partake in a business investment forum carded for 19th-21st May in Guyana.

Meanwhile, Robert Persaud, Guyana’s Foreign Secretary, said Guyana would be assisting regional countries.

“We see Guyana’s growth as good for the entire region,” he said.  “Guyana is strongly committed that its prosperity is shared throughout the region.”

He said Guyana’s Government also would be keeping its obligation to pursue the interest of its people to build an inclusive, sustainable society.

Speaking about oil and gas sector investment, Minister Persaud said Guyana’s Local Content Act allows for around 150 areas where foreign investors can participate in that country’s energy sector. 

He noted that Guyana also would be investing heavily in its non-energy sector to ensure that the country has sustained economic stability. He observed that his country had suffered from bad political management for more than two decades and is now able to rebound. 

Couva Chamber president, Mukesh Ramsingh, urged the Guyanese delegation to ensure that windfalls from its petroleum sector are invested in economic diversification.