Guyana to cut some agri imports, save US$150 million yearly

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 23:20 by Writer

Guyana intends to produce more than 60 percent of its onion needs, in addition to corn, soya, feed, black-eyed peas and red beans and so save the country more than US$150 million annually in foreign exchange, President Irfaan Ali said Wednesday.

“We have experimented with onion production. We have proven, now, that we have the right mix of soil,” he said. While acknowledging that the capital cost “might be a bit high”, Guyana would just over one year from now produce all the onions that Guyana imports. “Within about 16 months, we might be in a position to say that we can cut our imports on onion by more than 60 percent,” he told the Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission.

The President said the more than US$150 million saving would include the cost of fertiliser which would also eventually be produced locally.

He said large-scale planting of black-eyed peas and red beans would begin in another four days, with the aim of moving Guyana to self-sufficiency in those items by the first quarter of 2025. He said one year later, Guyana would be able to supply all markets in the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM). “The small farmers will help to support the local market,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said that by October 2024, Guyana would produce “all the feed we need for aquaculture” and so cut the cost of that input by 50 percent.

Government has already announced that by the end of 2025, Guyana would be fully self-sufficient in corn and soya. He said that another 3,000 acres were under cultivation in the Tacama area. “That would allow us to have all the backward and forward linkages to have the full feed production for livestock and poultry right here in Guyana,” he said

The President said that by 2027, Guyana hoped to capture at least 35 percent of the regional market for corn, soy and feed. In that regard, he pitched the idea of other producers in the Caribbean to set up their factories in Guyana to take advantage of a 50-percent cut in electricity and large scale production of raw materials. “The better thing for producers in the rest of the region to do is to partner with our local private sector and create their manufacturing facilities here,” he said.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Guyana had experimented with producing onions locally but the cost of transportation from the interior was too high and rendered the initiative unprofitable. Black-eyed peas had also been produced locally.