…heralds commencement of agro-tourism in Guyana
The new Skeldon factory is closer to production level, and this would mean the imminent closure of the old sugar factory that currently operates in Skeldon, which is popularly known to Berbicians as ‘Old Smokey.’
All is, however, not lost. This newspaper has learnt that plans are afoot to have the facility, which has been in existence ever since the 1920s, cleaned up and put on display as a museum that would potentially herald the start of an agro-tourism industry in Guyana.
The Skeldon Sugar Factory has served as a source of income for generations of Guyanese living in Berbice, and has served the nation for decades, hence the decision not to destroy a piece of the nation’s history, but instead turn it into a museum.
The concept of agro-tourism is a direct expansion of ecotourism, which encourages visitors to experience agricultural life at first hand.
Agro-tourism is currently gathering strong support from small communities. Rural people have realised the benefits of sustainable development brought about by similar forms of nature travel.
During the recently held Agro Investment forum in Guyana, it was pointed out that, given that the issue of reparation has been more or less staunchly opposed by the developed world, countries that have a history of commodities such as sugar, that was one of the keys for the basis of slavery, should develop their agro tourism potential.
“They (people from the developed world) should pay and come and learn exactly what drove the slave industry…they could also learn to have better appreciation for the commodity that they import into their country and want to pay so little for,” said one of the participants at the forum.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government recently agreed to set up a US$60M Regional Fund which will be used for marketing the Caribbean’s tourism as a diverse, single product.
Of the US$60M earmarked, US$21M will be provided equitably by regional governments, and a task force has been charged to come up with recommendations on how the remaining funds will be secured.
As lead minister in the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet, Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo will work with his Bahamian counterpart Hubert Ingraham on the development of a policy to move forward the concept of agro-tourism, described by Heads as a very important concept which has been taken onboard.
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