Competitiveness of sugar industry to be enhanced
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
President, Dr Irfaan Ali (left) and President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla met during the recent CARICOM meeting in Belize (Office of the President photo)
President, Dr Irfaan Ali (left) and President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla met during the recent CARICOM meeting in Belize (Office of the President photo)

–Guatemala to support development of palm oil & coffee industries

–bilateral visit from Guatemala soon

GUYANA is in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Guatemala, and setting the agenda for a bilateral visit, which will see Guatemala assisting this country with its current revitalisation of the sugar industry, as well as looking at collaborating in the area of palm oil – a high value commodity – and coffee production.

This was announced by the President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, on Sunday, during a press conference held at State House where the President noted that there is only a broad overview of the agreement thus far with the specifics expected to be worked out over the next two weeks.

“[We will] focus immediately on palm oil and sugar to work out technical investment and management structure required, most importantly the twinning of best practices. We are also looking at coffee…within two weeks to have full refinement of the MoU,” President Ali said as he responded to questions from the press on the arrangement between the two countries.

The plans for the MoU are among several developments that came out of the recently held Fourth CARICOM SICA Summit which was held in Belize. During the summit, President Ali held bilateral meetings and began discussions with Guatemala’s President, Alejandro Giammattei Falla.

The two Presidents agreed on the importance of a strong partnership in agriculture, and shared the aspirations of both countries to develop broad and effective cooperation for mutual benefit, including in the areas of security, climate change, agriculture, and food security.

With an import value in the Caribbean region of US$143 million, palm oil has been identified as one among a number of high value commodities with potential for development in Caribbean countries and President Ali highlighted Guyana’s potential to tap into that industry.

The agreement will also hold a lot of potential for the development of Guyana’s sugar industry, given the fact that Guatemala is currently the fourth largest exporter of sugar worldwide, and the second largest exporter in Latin America.

And so, this relationship will mean a lot for the development of Guyana’s sugar industry, which the government has been working assiduously over the past two years to revive, given its economic and social benefits.

The President pointed out that Guatemala’s sugar industry generates over US$1 billion in export earnings, along with creating 80, 000 direct jobs and another 410,000 indirect jobs. He also noted that agriculture overall contributes 23 per cent of Guatemala’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 75 per cent of its export earnings and 50 per cent of the country’s local labour force.

“Why am I giving these statistics from Guatemala? It is for us to have an understanding. Understand the potential power house that we can collaborate and cooperate with in terms of food security with the sugar industry,” President Ali noted.

He added that: “Not only technical support, [but] twinning of opportunities. You look at best practices and twin it. The end result is sustainable job creation, economic expansion and viability of the industry that is the main output that we are looking at.”

The President also noted that Guatemala is 108, 000 sq kilometres, and has 11 sugar mills along with a cultivation area of 251, 000 hectares which yields some 10.7 metric tonnes per hectare, while Guyana is 215,000 sq km with 49, 000 hectares for sugar and a current yield of about four to five tonnes per hectare.

Meanwhile, the President highlighted that collaborations between the Caribbean region and Central American can play a major role in advancing the CARICOM’s target of growing more of its own foods, and reducing the region’s agriculture import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 (25 by 25).

“We have not been looking at Central America and the opportunities they present for us. During the summit, I [held] discussions with Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica. If you look at Central America as a whole, agriculture contributes half of the total regional exports,” he said.

The President named sugar, coffee, pineapple, banana as just a few of the key crops exported by Central America.

He noted that, in many of the Central American countries, agriculture makes up a significant portion of the GDP and employment.

“This is the value and power of agriculture and food production in these countries,” President Ali noted.

The Fourth CARICOM SICA Summit followed just days after the Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of Heads of Government of the CARICOM, where regional food security was one of the main areas that was high on the agenda of discussions.

During the Inter-sessional meeting, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who holds the responsibility for Agriculture, Agricultural Diversification and Food Security in CARICOM, outlined the action-oriented and solution-based proposal, aimed at reducing the region’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali has received praise from the various CARICOM heads of State for his efforts and plans to transform agriculture in the region.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Scroll to Top
All our printed editions are available online
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.