Food sector accounts for 32% of GDP...
More agriculture diversification urged
by Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
December 11, 2003

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Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock and acting Minister of Agriculture says food security is a priority in the face of changing conditions of market access and dependence on imported food.

Declaring open a workshop yesterday on diversification of the agriculture sector in Guyana at Le Meridien Pegasus, the minister declared; "There is growing need for the region to recognize the obvious need for restructuring within the sector and quickly address those constraints, which threaten the promotion and maintenance of food security. Diversification has long been identified as one of the primary tools to be utilized in the expansion of our agricultural base."

He reported that Guyana's agriculture sector continues to be of fundamental importance to the economy, creating employment for some 70% of the population and accounting for 32% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year. Sugar and rice accounted for 19%and 3% respectively and continues to be recognized as the principal industries in this sector. Fishing and livestock contributed to the remaining 10%.

The minister said that the National Development Strategy (NDS) has noted that promotion of non-traditional crops will increase rural incomes, employment, foreign exchange earnings and reduce poverty.

This sector has significant unrealized potential, Sawh pointed out, disclosing that Guyana produces over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables.
He said in keeping with the principles outlined in the NDS the government through the two ministries responsible for agriculture and supporting agencies has intensified efforts on the production and marketing of non-traditional commodities.

He identified several initiatives that have already been taken in this regard, including upgrading nurseries, strengthening the research, extension and marketing systems and improving accessibility to land for agricultural development among others. Emphasis has also been placed on drainage and irrigation, he added.

During the past year exports of fresh agricultural produce has shown an increase, Sawh disclosed, pointing out that the range of products exported to Barbados increased from three products in 2001 to fifteen this year. Fresh produce at the Central Packaging facility increased to 698 tonnes last year from 488 in 2001.