T&T Minister dismisses concerns of his countrymen about Guyana investment

T&T Minister dismisses concerns of his countrymen about Guyana investment

Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are moving forward with their agriculture deal which will see the acres of land being provided to agriculture investors from the neighbouring twin island Republic.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Agriculture, Devant Maharaj has dismissed the concerns of some Trinidadian farmers about the move to invest in Guyana and believe that “sincere ignorance” may be blamed for their concerns.

Guyana and Trinidad had signed a Memorandum of Understanding back in 2013. That memorandum addresses the need to improve food security and reduce the food import bill of the two countries through agriculture investment in Guyana.

A number of Trinidadian farming groups had raised concerns when the agreement was first signed. Many of those groups called for that country’s government to develop their own farmlands rather than try to get them to move to Guyana to make investment. The Trinidadian Agriculture Minister said the concerns were politically motivated and were only expressed by a few. Maharaj led a delegation of officials and investors to Guyana during the week to examine the potential of doing agriculture in Guyana.

“Sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity is a danger to the world. Those statements that emanated from Trinidad at the time of the floating of the idea came from farmers with a political agenda”, the Trinidadian Minister said.

He said those farmers were not fully aware of  the agreement with Guyana and what it entailed.

A group of investors from Trinidad along with that country’s Agriculture Minister spent a few days in Guyana during the week visiting potential farmlands and getting a better understanding of the potential of the agriculture sector.

During a Friday morning press conference, Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy made it clear that the Trinidadian investors in agriculture will not be competing with local farmers although local farmers. He said local farmers are however, being encouraged to compete directly with the investors if they wish.

He said the agreement caters for investment in expertise and machinery and technology. Ramsammy told reporters that Guyanese will be the ones getting jobs on the farmlands and providing the labour force. He said proposals for various projects under the agreement are still to be addressed.

“We are hopeful that it could happen fast but the discussions are continuing”, Ramsammy said.  He said the meeting with the Trinidadian investors was fruitful as they learnt the potential of Guyana’s agriculture sector.

Ramsammy said Guyana will be putting a limit to the amount of land that will be made available for the investment and the Trinidad and Tobago Minister, Devant Maharaj warned that a clause is expected to be added to the agreement that will see land being repossessed by Guyana from those investors who do not begin their projects within a specified time.

Many in the local farming sector have been quiet about the agreement. Ramsammy said most of the areas being looked at for farming will be outside of the main areas that farmers in Guyana would use. Already he said Guyana is home to two major agriculture projects by a Barbadian investor and a Trinidadian investor.

Filed: 13th December 2014



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