Wide range of investment opportunities in agriculture

Wide range of investment opportunities in agriculture

-Gov’t made provisions for robust agri-business
-Minister Mustapha tells forum

(Natasha Smith, DPI) Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha has said that opportunities for investment in agriculture range from production to consumption and the Government has made provisions to create an enabling environment for robust agri-business development.

The Minister made this statement in his keynote address at the virtual forum ‘Agriculture Business Development, Opportunities and Techniques’ which was held on Friday. The initiative was held by the Indo-Caribbean Society.

“Agriculture Business Development focuses on adding value to agricultural commodities, including non-food sectors at various points of the chain of economic transactions that link input providers, farmers, traders, processors, logistic providers, distributors, and retailers,” the Minister said.

He also noted that Guyana’s agricultural potential is vast, both for cultivation and agro-processing.

“Guyana’s agriculture potential is largely due to the country being endowed with a diverse agricultural environment, which includes highly fertile soils in the coastal areas, large expanses of land that have never been used for modern agriculture and remains free of agricultural chemicals.”

Agriculture production is increasing as the sector expands, opening an array of business opportunities. There also are agri-business opportunities specifically in the subsectors of crop cultivation, agro-processing, and livestock farming, he said. This, coupled with the opportunities that will open up through the emerging petroleum sector will make Guyana a boon for investment.

Minister Mustapha highlighted that the Government has sought to foster both local and international investment by making provisions in the Emergency Budget 2020. Special provisions have also been made for those venturing into corn and soybean production, while orchard crops like citrus, avocado, guava and soursop have great potential for processing in the Intermediate Savannah.

The Government is also the open to more investments in processing in the value chains of rice and coconut as for years the country has produced commodities, but has had limited value-added production.

With regards to livestock, Minister Mustapha noted that Guyana is self-sufficient in all of its meat products, but it imports $1.8 billion worth of dairy products every year.  He believes that with good manufacturing techniques and ISO certifications a local dairy industry can supply the needed quota.

At the same time, he investment in the livestock industry would be welcomed.

“We welcome services that increase access to fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, animal feed, farm tools, and equipment,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister noted that there are vast opportunities for investment in agro-processing in Regions One, Eight, Nine and Ten for high-value processed products such as cassava by-products, fruit juices, dried ginger, mangoes and processed peanut products.

At the same time, investment on the coastland in Regions Three, Four, Five and Six for agri-business service producers, particularly in areas with displaced sugar workers, would thrive.

In addition to creating jobs, agro-processing would reduce the level of spoilage of fruits and other cash crops by converting them to processed products, which can be sold locally or exported, generating revenue.

“There are opportunities for agriculture business development in areas such as cold storage to prolong the shelf life of produce, especially those that are seasonal and perishable produce; transportation services such as refrigerated transport, which include trucks, cooling units, and containers; centralised packaging facilities for the preparation of produce for markets; and the supply of quality packaging materials,” Minister Mustapha said.

He added that “investments in agriculture businesses will also play an important role in the development of the agriculture sector. For this reason, Government continues offer several incentives for venturing into Agri-business.”

The Government, in the Emergency budget 2020 announced several measures including the waivers of import duty and value-added tax on a range of machinery and equipment for land preparation and cultivation, tax concessions on investment in agro-processing facilities, cold storage and packaging; waivers of import duty on agrochemicals, deductible allowances for expenditures incurred for development and cultivation purposes.

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