THE Agriculture Ministry is urging farmers to capitalise on the budgetary measures in the sector to expand their crop repertoire to include corn and soya bean. Guyana spends almost US$25 million annually to import these commodities for food for livestock.
Instead of those sums being expended abroad, they can be used to purchase from local farmers.
In an interview with the DPI on Tuesday, Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), said for Guyana to become self-sufficient, eight to ten thousand acres of corn and soya beans must be cultivated.
He said that in doing so, farmers will have more spending power, and be assured of a permanent market for their produce.
The Government, in its 2020 Emergency Budget, removed the value-added tax (VAT) on agriculture machinery, fertilisers, agrochemicals and pesticides, making it more feasible for such investments to be achieved. Additionally, land lease fees across all sectors, and water charges have been reversed to 2014 rates.
Dr. Homenauth is urging farmers to begin cultivation of these crops. Meanwhile, some farmers have already indicated an interest in cultivating between 40 and 50 acres of corn.
“We are working with them. As incentives, we will be providing some of the seeds. While we don’t have all the seeds at present, we will work to generate seed materials, and that will start maybe by December, due to the inclement weather. At Mahaica and the Linden Highway, I believe we can do about 20 to 30 acres, and from that, we can generate seed materials,” he said.
Dr. Homenauth hopes to triple that amount come 2021, noting that the Brazilian investors have agreed to return and expand the cultivation next year. “I am sure we will have a couple hundreds of acres more,” he said.
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Guyana’s economy. In order to realise the goals of the industry, special incentives were included in the budget to spur greater investment in the sector through expanding cultivation, and exploring new crop options and value-added production.