GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday, January 12, launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs; the programme is one part of a “more macro vision” that would eventually be expanded to every region in the country.
President Ali announced that the government will provide all the resources and materials to develop 25 shade houses in the first phase that will be used to house thousands of high-value crops such as broccoli and cauliflower.
The project would be done through interagency and inter-ministry support systems that will see collaboration from the ministry of agriculture, the ministry of culture, youth and sport, the ministry of tourism, industry and commerce and the joint services, among other groups.
The president said that according to data, the shade house production per cycle is expected to be 3,000 pounds, and with three cycles per annum, it will jump to approximately 9,000 pounds per year. The wholesale value of this, he said, is $57 million, while the retail value stands at approximately $112 million.
“So you are talking here about a business that can generate in a net sense using these three costs, close to $60 to $70 million annually.”
The president emphasised that the programme will be expanded in the future to have about 300 shade houses across the country, which will be managed by past and present agriculture students, who will form themselves into a company, with each becoming a shareholder.
In addition, an advisory committee would assist them in setting up and coordinating their company and operations. They are also expected to manage their business on a rotational basis.
“What will take Guyana forward is what we are doing here; building responsible leadership and having young people lead in that responsible leadership, because you are the ones who will inherit this Guyana that we want to build, and you have to be a key part of building that responsible leadership,” the head of state explained, the aim is to link the country’s food security strategy to the regional food security system as Guyana continues to develop its agricultural potential.
“So while we’re working on one hand to expand local production for the local market, we are already eliminating the barriers to the regional markets, so that we are going to expand this progressively until we are able to reach into the regional market also. So you have to see yourselves as part of a regional system and part of the local system.”
Importance of agriculture
President Ali also highlighted the importance of agriculture in entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, innovation and technology, sustainability and increasing local content, added: “If we are to become the agricultural food basket of the Caribbean, we have to grow up a thousand times, and to do that, we have to encourage more people to go into the direction of agriculture and to see a viable future out of it, and a viable future is not about sitting in an office.”
The launch of the programme was attended by dozens of young people in the agriculture sector who are either currently studying or have already graduated.