Guyana – Agricultural Sector

Guyana’s vast tracts of productive land present enormous opportunities for growth.  Agriculture is one of the most important productive sectors of Guyana’s economy.  Agriculture accounts for approximately one-third of Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 30% of the country’s employment.  However, in recent years, the sector has been affected by volatility in international commodity prices and extreme weather events, which have contributed to a challenging environment for agricultural sector development.
Although Guyana’s mature sugar and rice industries will continue to play an important role in Guyana’s economy, the non-traditional agriculture sector is beginning to show high growth potential.  For example, agro-processing exports (i.e., prepared food and molasses) experienced significant growth within the last five years.  There was also an increase of exports in the prepared foods market (i.e., jams and jellies, coconut milk, spices, pasta, etc.).  With investments in production, facilities, quality assurance, and processing, non-traditional agriculture could become an engine of export growth.

Fresh Fruits – International demand for fresh fruit is growing.  Market potential exists for citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and limes, as well as exotic fruits, such as mangoes, sapodillas, papayas, pineapples, and passion fruit.  However, exporters must be able to establish modern post-harvest handling and quality systems to prevent spoilage in transit and must meet international phytosanitary controls.  Additional value can be achieved by shipping selected fruits to destination markets by air, thereby ensuring maximum freshness.  In addition to the export industry, opportunities exist for fruit farmers to supply the tourism industry, as well as the expanding agro-processing industry, in Guyana and the Caribbean.
Fresh Vegetables – Export opportunities exist for a range of vegetables, such as cucumber, pumpkins, watermelon, melon, saeme, bora, and callaloo within the Caribbean and North American markets.  However, Guyana’s ability to supply international markets is currently hampered by the time required to transport its products to market.  An increase in airlift capacity would create enormous export opportunities for this sector.  In addition to fresh produce, current opportunities exist to supply Guyanese or Caribbean food processors with raw inputs.
Plantains, Roots, and Tubers – There is potential to increase Guyana’s exports of selected plantain, roots and tubers to ethnic markets in the Caribbean, North America, and Europe.  Opportunities also exist for malanga, breadfruit, and ground provisions as raw inputs in the snack food industry.
Organic Products – As noted above, Guyana has large tracts of land free of agricultural chemicals, providing a unique opportunity to meet a growing demand for organic products in North America and Europe.  In most cases, organic products receive a premium price compared to their conventional counterparts.  Organic cocoa, pineapple, and heart of palm are already being grown for export (See Box 2.4).  Organic products could also find a welcome market within Guyana and throughout the Caribbean among hotels and restaurants that serve discriminating tourists.
Herbs and Spices – There is growing demand in the Caribbean, North America, and Europe for hot peppers, eschallots, celery, and other ingredients for seasoning, all of which grow abundantly in various parts of Guyana.
Livestock and Dairy Products – There are excellent investment opportunities for the production of meat (beef and mutton), poultry products, milk, and milk products for both domestic consumption and export to the Caribbean.  In particular, Guyana’s savannahs provide a favorable environment for medium to large-scale cattle-raising.  Guyana has been certified as foot-and-mouth disease free, providing it with favorable access to many markets.
Processed Foods – Opportunities exist for processing or semi-processing produce and animal products.  Already, Guyana’s exotic and gourmet food products are in demand in Caribbean, North American, and European markets.  Products with a large growth potential include jams, jellies, sauces, processed spices, and fruit puree blends.
Agricultural Support Services – Since the non-traditional agricultural sector is still emerging, there is an ongoing need for investment in inputs, machinery, and support services.  In particular, there are opportunities for air cargo service providers to expand flights for agricultural exports, as well as for investments in cold storage facilities, post-harvest handling, and packaging services.

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