Significant development in the savannahs Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
June 8, 2002

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AGRICULTURE has been and will always be one of man's primary endeavours for the simple reason that it is the means of producing food for a growing global population.

It has also been the foundation of industrialisation of many countries, including those in North America, Europe and Asia.

In Guyana, it is the backbone of the economy with sugar and rice being the main pillars.

Apart from providing vitally needed foreign exchange, it is a major source of employment - the sugar industry employing some 18,000 workers and an estimated 30,000 families involved in the cultivation of rice.

However, in recent times the cultivation of non-traditional crops has been assuming an increasing role. Huge amounts of vegetables and fruits are finding markets in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

All efforts should be made by the authorities to sustain and build on this encouraging trend, especially in view of globalisation and free trade. It is one of the areas in which Guyana has tremendous potential to compete on the international market.

The Intermediate Savannahs is a region with vast lands which if optimally used in an efficient and sustainable manner can have a tremendous impact on local agricultural production.

Studies under the Intermediate Savannahs Agricultural Project (INSAP) funded by the Organisation of American States (OAS), have confirmed this huge potential, with more than 50,000 hectares of land suitable for agriculture and agro-processing.

The farmers and residents who live in communities located mainly along the Berbice River are resilient people living under some of the harshest conditions in Guyana - but they are willing to remain and work the land.

This attitude is of great significance considering the migratory trend among Guyanese and every effort and maximum support should be given to such communities to reinforce their position which could ultimately impact positively on the future of this country.

It was therefore encouraging to note that the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock made representation on behalf of the farmers of those communities for leases to their lands.

This might seem like a small step, but for those people it is a significant development because they can now feel more secure - not living in fear of their lands, their main means of livelihood, being taken away.

This land allocation process should now be accelerated to provide as many farmers as possible with their leases in the shortest possible time, and the issue of providing a ferry boat service in the Berbice River should assume paramount importance.

Minister Satyadeow Sawh, on his recent visit there, assured residents that the issue is being addressed. It, however, needs to be dealt with expeditiously.

According to the plan for the area, agro-processing is to become a major aspect of developing its agricultural and economic potential and transportation has to be treated with the requisite importance.

The success of any industry or productive venture depends heavily on cheap, reliable and efficient means of transportation.