(by Nazima Raghubir)
With more than 1000 investment related projects facilitated by the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) agriculture related investments stand out in the agricultural South American country.
Among the many investors in agriculture in Guyana are the siblings of the Caricom family which have sought to make the best of the massive span of land available.
Dhanraj Danpaul, Acting Director Go-Invest listed more than 10 agricultural companies which are not indigenous to Guyana that continue to operate in the country due to investments facilitated by his office. He was at the time speaking of the investment possibilities and waivers that await potential businesses at a workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture on hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the Caribbean. The workshop is one of several being held as part of Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Georgetown, Guyana. Among the companies currently operating out of Guyana in the Agri industry are the Barbados owned Santa Fe Inc and Al Axis Splash, Citrus Company Guyana Inc, Southern Investment, Virgin Caribbean, Old Mac Agro Supply, Henry’s Farm out of Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom Rice Mill of St. Vincent and Barron Foods of St. Lucia owned by a Guyanese.
“You’ll see we have large ones [companies] with more than 250 employees with an annual sale of G$500 million (US$2.5million) and an asset base of half a million US, then we go to the medium size one, (which employs) 51 persons, (with an asset base of) US$200,00).”
The Office has been able to facilitate investment by companies interest in agri and agro processing, live stock and crops, manufacturing, energy, mining and tourism. To aid the process and guided by the Investment Act of 2004, there have been waivers on customs duties, Value Added Tax and tax on machinery, equipment and chemicals.
Land dominated the requests by investors, Danpaul explained. He said that land for industrial and agricultural is available.
“Land is always an issues…industrial land, there is land that is established estate, some are still being developed, some are advanced, some have already been exhausted, we are trying to expand those estates and we trying to get new ones going.”
State land is available for agricultural purposes and only by lease. This has posed a problem in the past since investors in some cases have not utilised the land. But GO-Invest Office has taken a new approach.
“the investor would come discuss the need for land, sigh the MOU, without leasing the land, let him conduct his feasibility study, once the findings are favourable, then we may proceed to release the land in tranches… once he performs we continue to release land”
Three large tracts of land are available for agricultural purposes, these are in the Canjie Basin in the east of the country towards the Suriname border – Rupununi Savannahs in the South country close to the Brazil Border and the Intermediate Savannahs in the centre of the country.