Exciting sweet possibilities

Guyana Chronicle
June 10, 2000

THERE is fresh hope for Guyanese farmers who have had to bear losses from reaped crops left on their hands because of a shortage of markets.

The good news came this week from British High Commissioner, Mr Edward Glover, who announced that local cocoa farmers are in for a bonanza on the British market.

Cocoa is used to make chocolates and everyone knows how everyone loves chocolates.

According to Mr Glover, the significant breakthrough is in a niche market under which local farmers are to meet an October target of 25 tons of organically-grown cocoa.

The crop which will garner about US$37,000 when reaped, will be sent to the Netherlands where it will be processed before being shipped to the United Kingdom.

The importance of the venture to Guyana is that more and more people in the highly lucrative markets in the developed world want to eat healthy and eating healthy means sticking with organic foods - crops produced and processed without the use of pesticides and chemicals.

And there is enormous potential here in several crops.

As we reported this week, the multi-million dollar cocoa project between the British and Guyana governments has its genesis in an idea mooted by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, who had enquired about the possibility of growing organic foods here while on a State visit to this country in February last.

Mr Glover, a key figure in the project coming on stream, told a press conference that the British Government will, within a month, make available $14M to rehabilitate 100 acres of existing cocoa plantation in Hosororo and Mabaruma, in Region One (Barima/Waini), for the scheme.

Agriculture has long been a mainstay of the Guyana economy and is set to maintain its critical importance for quite some time.

The organic opening the cocoa project has thrown up increases the exciting possibilities in the agro-industry sector and long-suffering farmers will be relishing the sweet prospects.

Mr Glover noted the benefits of the scheme - the project will help develop the traditional Amerindian crop, alleviate poverty in a section of the Barima/Waini region through the mechanism of enterprise of development, help the farming-community become self-sustaining, in addition to providing the local private sector with a new area of activity.

He foresees the project will also forge openings for other crops such as coffee, peanuts and sugar.

We share the optimism of Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Mr Satyadeow Sawh who feels Guyana could be on the verge of a revolution in agriculture in farming, noting that markets can also be forged for cashew, coffee and peanuts if they are grown under organic conditions.

The cocoa project is a first step towards Guyana's effort to make organic agriculture a thing of the future, he said.

The demand, Mr Sawh noted, is becoming greater in countries in North America and Europe for organically-grown foods which ensure a sound and healthy body.

Mr Glover said the Office of the Prince of Wales is delighted that the project has come on stream, adding that it has been closely scrutinised and samples of the local beans found to be of a high quality.

We are sure the delight is even greater among farmers and agriculture officials here.

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