The development of the agro-processing industry remains a priority for the Government of Guyana, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture. This remains aligned with the global agenda to ensure sustainability of the world food system, especially in light of growing threats such as climate change and other factors that have resulted in continued food loss and wastage.
It has been reported that even though hunger affects close to 700 million people annually, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food are dumped each year. This means that the global wastage and loss of food account for approximately 30 per cent of all food production. These threats, have worsened due to the emergence of the novel coronavirus pandemic which continues to devastate the world. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of the food production and distribution systems, especially to the most vulnerable and to rural populations – particularly women and girls.
In Guyana, the agricultural sector is heavily focused on primary production and there is a need to develop the agro-processing sector in an effort to pursue value-added initiatives ultimately increasing exports of new and innovative products and lessening the loss and wastage of agricultural produce, including fruits and vegetables.
Also, the Government of Guyana, in an effort to avoid the perils of Dutch Disease and to capitalize on their vast land mass, is making a pivot to diversify the Guyanese economy particularly towards the agriculture industry. President Ali has repeatedly stated his ambition to make Guyana the “bread basket” of the Caribbean.
The Ministry of Agriculture is working assiduously to lead the development of the agro-processing sector through major public investments, development, and strengthening of Public-Private Partnerships and the creation of an enabling environment to encourage public investments. There is a lack of technical know-how around modern agriculture practices, scaling and capacity building which are obvious gaps in the industry – combined with capitalization challenges.