Last update: 01-Aug-2014 6:13 am
Friday, August 01, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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T&T and Guyana push ahead with agri land deal
Guyana and T&T are forging ahead with an agreement which allows for investors from T&T to engage in large scale farming in Guyana, and will see both countries engaging in more economic activities. Earlier this year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between for 10,000 acres of Guyana to be made available to T&T investors and farmers for agricultural development.
During a press briefing in Georgetown on Thursday, Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy said discussions were held this week with Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj to push the agreement forward. “We are at the beginning of a collaboration that will benefit both countries,” Ramsammy said. No financial investment will be made by either government but, agricultural and economic activities will be facilitated in both countries.
Ramsammy said Guyanese farmers pay about Guy$1,000 per acre annually, depending on the geographical area, and based on the crop, location and the size of the investment. Several visits were made and meetings held between officials from T&T and Guyana. As a result, several commodities were identified that would be best suited for the land. These include corn, soya, cassava, legumes, fish rearing and poultry.
“We have now agreed on what this collaboration will entail, Trinidad will put out an advisory and the investors will be referred to the Guyana Government and the agreement will be finalised,” Minister Ramsammy said.
Guyana has a huge amount of land that can be used for agriculture purposes. Outside of the 500,000 hectares that are under full or some cultivation, there is also the potential for 3.3 million hectares. Ramsammy said that now that the commodities are identified, appropriate land space will be considered within the next two weeks. He stressed that the project will in no way affect small scale farmers but rather, they will provide opportunities for them.
Maharaj said the project puts the two countries at the peak of revitalising agriculture in the region. He said T&T will be advertising for agriculture investors, site visits will be arranged, requests for proposals will be solicited, and thereafter evaluations will be made by both sides before finalisation.
He expressed the hope that investors will seize the opportunity because Trinidad has less land available and Guyana offers many more possibilities. The products will also require that some processing facilities be set up in Guyana before exporting. This will also result in more jobs opportunities being created.
This project follows through on an initiative proposed by former Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo for Caricom countries to collaborate with Guyana and expand underdeveloped agricultural lands. This strategy is geared toward reducing food import bills, increasing inter-regional food security and reducing food inflation.