New ‘youth agri’ initiative could reduce food import bill
President Dr. Irfaan Ali launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) in the presence of other senior government officials, on Tuesday (Office of the President photo)
President Dr. Irfaan Ali launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) in the presence of other senior government officials, on Tuesday (Office of the President photo)

–as project targets three high-value crops

PRESIDENT, Dr. Irfaan Ali, on Tuesday, officially launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme, a flagship initiative which, he said, will stimulate and promote significant economic growth among young agriculturists.

The massive project, the Head of State related, will see the construction of 25 shade houses for the cultivation of three high value crops; carrot, broccoli and cauliflower.

In 2018, the import value for carrot, broccoli and cauliflower was $1.583 billion, while in 2019 and 2021 the import value stood at $2.626 billion and $1.962 billion, respectively. This large sum of money could be spent right here, President Ali said.

The project targets former and current students of the University of Guyana (UG), the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), and other budding agricultural entrepreneurs.

“You are part of the future. What we are creating here is people who will be a part of the transformative agenda, the future of the country and we are going to support this,” Dr. Ali said during an opening ceremony for the project held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

In the first phase of this initiative, a company named “One Guyana” will be established and managed by the young agriculturists. The government plans to provide all the materials to begin construction of the shade houses.

Additionally, investments will be given through the private sector, while support will be provided by the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service, among other stakeholders.

“We are putting every single person to productive use. So, all of them would help us in terms of the labour and establishing the shade house and infrastructure,” Dr. Ali said.

The visionary Guyanese Leader pointed out that the project is not an experiment, since the crops are already growing in Guyana’s soil.

He said the consumption pattern of Guyanese shows that the three products are necessary. Also, based on assessments, with the tourism boost and influx of visitors, there is economic indication that those types of foods are in demand.

“We are also going to link into the regional food security system. The regional food security system is even more important. We are the agriculture seat of the region and we have to lead by example.

“Whilst we are working on one hand to expand local production in the local market, we are already eliminating the barriers to the regional markets so we can expand this progressively, until we are able to reach into the regional market,” the Head of State added.

He went on to say: “You are talking here about a business that could generate in a net sense using these three crops, about $60 million to $70 million annually. That’s for the 25 shade houses that we want to do and this is just phase one, we are going to expand this,” Dr. Ali said.

The Head of State has, on many occasions, expressed his willingness and commitment to work with the nation’s young minds, rallying with them along the journey to prosperity and creating opportunities to ensure they inherit a better Guyana.

“Young people must feel empowered. You see the resources from oil and gas give us this opportunity, to open up opportunities in these areas and this is where the real benefit will be, this is where Guyanese will benefit the most, these opportunities, creating it and giving you the ownership,” the President posited.

He said young people are the custodians of Guyana’s tomorrow and their spirit of inclusiveness and selflessness are pivotal in taking the country forward. This is what the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration will embrace, the President said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, told the young people that he is certain that this initiative will transform their lives.

Also present at the launch of the project were Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh; Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr.; Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton; Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn. (DPI)


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