As the leading bank in Guyana, GBTI is proud to be a strong supporter of the country’s robust agricultural industry. Through its specially designed loan programs for agriculture and rice farming, each of which involves benefits such as production cycle repayment terms and preferential interest rates, GBTI is committed to ensuring that businesses operating in the agricultural industry have the financial resources they need to succeed.
Support from financial institutions such as GBTI is one of the factors that has helped Guyana’s agricultural industry thrive. Today, agriculture is one of the most productive sectors of Guyana’s economy, accounting for approximately one-third of the country’s GDP and 30% of its employment. Guyana is also known as the “breadbasket of the Caribbean.” Read on for a closer look at what agriculture in Guyana is all about.
Traditionally, Guyana’s agriculture industry has been based on two major crops: rice and sugar.
Rice—Rice has been a staple food item throughout Guyana’s history as an agricultural society, and the crop is both consumed domestically and exported internationally. In 2017, according to the Guyana Rice Development Board, nearly 536,000 tons of rice were exported (compared with 500,000 tons in 2016). This healthy growth is due in part to the recent increase in global rice prices, which has helped boost export earnings for Guyana and has directly benefitted the small-scale farmers who grow the majority of the country’s rice.
Sugar—The sugar industry has long been the bedrock of Guyana’s agricultural sector. However, there has been a great deal of uncertainty around global sugar prices in recent years: for example, the EU, which was the primary export destination for much of Guyana’s sugar, recently reduced their guaranteed prices. As a result of these changes in the global trading environment, the government of Guyana has decided to cease operations on many of the country’s sugar estates. Nevertheless, there are still opportunities for development in the sugar sector, such as processing raw sugar into crystallized and brown sugar, and manufacturing sugar-based byproducts such as ethanol.
Due in part to the uncertainty around some aspects of Guyana’s traditional agricultural commodities, the country has seen significant growth in its non-traditional agricultural sector over the last several years. Some of the non-traditional commodities that are currently booming in Guyana include:
Fresh fruits and vegetables—With its abundance of arable land and water, Guyana has a relatively high rate of fresh food production compared with many of the world’s other emerging economies. At present, the country produces large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables for local consumption and trade alike. Some of the most in-demand products from this sector include citrus fruits; exotic fruits such as mangoes, papayas, coconuts, and pineapples; roots and tubers; plantains; cucumbers; and pumpkins.
Herbs and spices—In North America, Europe, and the Caribbean, demand is increasing for the various herbs and spices that grow abundantly all over Guyana, including hot peppers, shallots, and cilantro.
Prepared and processed foods—Recently, Guyana has made moves to transform some of its raw and exotic agricultural products (such as sugar and tropical fruits) into prepared and processed foods. These products, which include jams, jellies, molasses, fruit puree blends, and coconut milk, are growing in popularity worldwide.
Honey—In early 2018, the government of Guyana identified honey as a valuable emerging element within Guyana’s agricultural sector. At present, the apiculture industry in Guyana produces over 11,000 gallons of nectar annually, along with byproducts such as bees’ wax and royal jelly.
Organic products—The organic agriculture sector in Guyana is still very much in development, but its growth potential is significant. The country has large tracts of land that have never been developed for modern agriculture and are therefore free from agricultural chemicals. Consequently, the organic certification process for these areas could potentially proceed more quickly, without the traditional three-year waiting period. Guyana is already growing organic cocoa, pineapple, and heart of palm, but there are opportunities to explore many other crops.
Seafood and aquaculture sub-sectors
With a 459-kilometer Atlantic coastline and an extensive river network, Guyana boasts ideal conditions for a thriving seafood and aquaculture industry. The country currently has significant fishery resources in the Atlantic Ocean, with many highly productive marine fisheries for prawns, shrimp, and commercial finfish. In addition, commercial aquaculture, particularly for tilapia and shrimp, is growing rapidly, thanks to increasing attention and support from government and private investors alike. Most seafood exports from Guyana are bound for the US, but in 2004, the country received certification to export seafood to the lucrative EU market.
There are many government and private organizations working to support the growth and development of Guyana’s agriculture industry. These include the Ministry of Agriculture, the main government agency responsible for traditional and non-traditional agricultural exports; the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute, which develops technology and systems to maintain export capacity; and the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, a semi-autonomous agency that provides a variety of services geared toward the producers and exporters of non-traditional commodities. And of course, GBTI offers financing and capital to support the growth of agricultural businesses large and small.