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3,000 jobs to be created

–with opening up of lands in Region Six
–agriculture will continue to be priority sector, says VP Jagdeo

SOME 3,000 new jobs are expected to be created in Region Six, as there are plans to open more lands for agricultural development in the region.

Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo made the announcement during his recent visit to the region, where he emphasised that despite the discovery of oil, the government will continue to place major emphasis on development of the agriculture sector to maintain national food security.

At a meeting at Number 63 Village, in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), the Vice-President informed farmers that the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance have identified some 35,000 acres of land in the region for cultivation.

“They have identified these 35,000 acres of land, that, because we’re building the road going down deeper into ‘Moleson’, [land] will be opened up along with the land that the farmers were planting cane to supply Skeldon,” he said, while adding that the farmers now have to think about what crops they will plant.

To this end, a group of the farmers that own some of the lands formed a committee, and indicated that they will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Finance to develop proposals.

These proposals, the Vice-President said, will inform the authorities on the types of infrastructure, drainage and irrigation and roads that may be necessary to provide access to the lands, along with the type of crops that can be cultivated there.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Jagdeo stated that when this is done, it can result in approximately 3,000 jobs, given the size of the project.

Moreover, as it relates to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) lands, the government has decided to split the use into three parts. Some lands will be left for sugar cultivation, another portion for aquaculture, and the remainder for hemp production.

As such, in relation to aquaculture, the Vice-President said that this can be a lucrative venture that can possibly bring in more revenue if it is done well.

However, while speaking about the possibility of using the lands for hemp production, he noted the importance of a processing plant, and also spoke about distributing the lands to the smaller farmers for the cultivation of hemp to supply the processing plant.

“So, we’re hoping to have a processing plant here in Berbice, and maybe get some of the GuySuCo lands. We don’t want large-scale plantation at the beginning; we don’t want to overload the market… and license the small farmers to grow and supply to the factory, and then they will process that,” Dr. Jagdeo said.

According to the Vice-President, these are some of the projects the government is working on to put lands into productive use and create more jobs in Berbice.

Food security and agriculture, he said, will be an important part of the future of Guyana, and emphasised that oil will not put agriculture on the back burner as the government is aware of the troubles of countries, some closer to home, which have neglected their agriculture sector.

Investment in the sector, he said, is paramount.

“So, over the next few years, you’re going to see us start doing almost all of those roads that can open up more lands so that our farmers have better access,” Dr. Jagdeo said as he told the farmers that “there’s a lot of effort by the government and emphasis back on agriculture and I wanted you to understand that.”