– says it was given 60,000 hectares in Canje Basin
Indian conglomerate, Ajeenkya DY Patil, says that it has been provided with a 99-year lease on 60,000 hectares of land located in Canje Basin for a mega-farm.
The Government of Guyana will provide tax holidays, waive import and export duties, and provide exemption from local taxes, the company said on its website.
The Ministry of Agriculture had initially stated that it had given approximately 10,000 hectares of land in the Canje Basin to the group for “mega farming”.
There have been no announcements by Government of these new arrangements.
The company said it was also able to acquire the rights to not only what is above the ground but below, a significant allowance, as it could pave the way for even mining to taking place in the concession.
It is unclear whether the group has even started doing anything with the land allotted to them. Several calls between Wednesday and Thursday to Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, went unanswered.
On the group’s website, the conglomerate stated that the administration will provide a single window clearance for all approvals like visas for importing labour. Further, Government will provide “sovereign guarantees” for successful funding of the project by international institutions.
The company went further. It said that Government agreed that it will support in the building of a road along the East Bank of the Berbice River to the concession and will also facilitate development of internal infrastructure in the area.
The group describes the project as a setup to an integrated agriculture business in Guyana.
“The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group is the main promoter of this project and has already entered in to a Memorandum of Understanding with Government of Guyana,” the group reported.
“With extensive experience and expertise of over 30 years in agriculture and related sectors, the group will bring solutions which will not only improve quality of agriculture produce but also improve quality of life for Guyanese famers and will be complementary to the present agriculture system in Guyana.
“The approach of the ADYP Group is of holistic development of agri-business, which is sustainable and leads to the development of local farmers,” the group said.
The group is claiming that they would make investments which would create directly over 15,000 new jobs in the Canje and the Berbice River areas, when fully realized. It is estimated that another 5,000 jobs will be created indirectly, supporting almost 15,000-20,000 families (approx 50,000 Guyanese).
The ADYP Group said that it has been assured of an active support from Government in the development of this project through a public–private partnership model.
“It is a financially viable and profitable proposal for investors as each of the chosen agriculture sectors represents high growth and low risk,” the group stated.
Minister Ramsammy had told Kaieteur News that the group will not be given any more lands once they have not fully developed the area which is allotted to them.
“No one who wants to do mega farming in Guyana will ever get what they ask for in one shot,” the Minister had insisted.
According to Ramsammy, the investors will have to demonstrate that they can use the land and until they are using that amount, the ministry will not release any more lands.
“I am not doubting that when these people come that they could develop the lands, but taking virgin territory and converting it into actual agriculture land and building the infrastructure – canals, dam, water shed, etc takes a lot of money and is slow going,” the Minister had said.
Back in November, Ramsammy had debunked reports that special consideration was given to the DY Patil Group. He had also denied that there was any relationship between the Patil group and Surendra Engineering.
Surendra Engineering is the company that was given the contract to build the Specialty Hospital, at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara. It also constructed the Enmore Packaging Plant.
According to Dr. Ramsammy, Guyana has three million hectares of agricultural lands that have no infrastructure and as such both local and international investors have been invited to help develop the land.
He explained that the persons submitting proposals would ask for various ‘things’ which the Ministry would consider.
“Based on those proposals we would sign Memoranda of Understanding to develop more details and to develop feasibility studies. The first was given to Santa Fe in Region Nine.” According to the Minister, that group had asked for 10,000 acres of land and has developed a plan for 30,000. As such they have since been given an additional 20,000 acres.
“That group is growing rice, soya, corn and cassava,” the Minister said. The DY Patil Group has presented a proposal to grow corn, sugar cane and biodiesel.
Dr. Ajeenka DY Patil is part of the Patil group which is a major Indian company. Dr. Patil, besides being a business investor, happens to be Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Mumbai, India. He and former President Bharrat Jagdeo both received Honorary Doctorates from Warwick University in London. After accepting that doctorate, Jagdeo received another from D Y Patil University.
This particular announcement by the Indian company would continue to raise questions over the manner Government has been going about in courting investors. In most cases, Guyanese only learn of details after the deal is done and in some cases, by chance.
Details of concessions have remained a closely guarded secret, with a number of investors, mainly Asians, and including Chinese and Indian firms, in the spotlight.
Two companies, in particular, Chinese-owned Bai Shan Lin, and Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc., an Indian company, have been in the news for the generous concessions afforded them and several questionable arrangements with Government.
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