Earlier this year, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Guyana and Trinidad and
Tobago whereby 10,000 acres of land will be made available to investors and farmers of the twin island for agricultural development.
During a press briefing today at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Regent Road Office, Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy disclosed that discussions were held with Trinidad’s, Agriculture Minister Devant Maharaj who was also present at the briefing, to push the agreement forward.
“We are at the beginning of a collaboration that will benefit both countries,” Minister Ramsammy said. No financial investment will be made by either governments, but rather, agricultural and economic activities will be facilitated in both countries.
However, Minister Ramsammy highlighted that Guyanese farmers pay about $1,000 per acres 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 by officials from Trinidad and Guyana. As a result, several commodities were identified that would be best suited for the land. These include corn, soya, cassava, legumes and fish rearing and poultry to some extent.
“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 pointed out.
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. Minister Ramsammy added that now that the commodities are identified, appropriate land space will be considered within the next two weeks.
He stressed that this project will in no way affect small scale farmers but rather, there will be added opportunities for them.
Meanwhile Minister Maharaj said that the project puts the two countries at the peak of revitalising agriculture in the region.
Immediately, Trinidad will be advertising for agriculture investors, site visits will be arranged, requests for proposals will then be solicited, and thereafter, evaluation will be made by both sides before finalization, he stated.
He expressed hope that the Trinidadian investors will seize the opportunity because Trinidad has less land available and Guyana offers much more possibilities. The products will also require some processing facilities being set up in Guyana before exporting. This will also result in more jobsopportunities being created.
This project follows through on the Jagdeo initiative proposed to CARICOM for countries to collaborate with Guyana and expand its underdeveloped agricultural lands. This strategy is geared towards reducing food import bills from countries outside the region, increase inter-regional food security, and reduce food inflation.
Trinidad and Tobago is currently looking at ways and means through which it can reduce its import of food from outside of CARICOM; however, it does not have the availability of land at its disposal to grow more of its own food, hence they took up this offer.