Mar 02, 2017 News
Now that both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have new governments, the arrangement to make 10,000 acres of agricultural lands available to the Twin-Island Republic, seems to have been abandoned.
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the previous governments of both countries, has since expired.
It was back in 2013 that then Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, signed the MoU with his Trinidadian counterpart, Devant Maharaj.
“A Memorandum of Understanding is only valid for one year, and in that one year, certain things have to be done on both sides. In that one year, Trinidad apparently expressed no further interest,” Minister Holder said, recently.
He noted that even during the latest summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Trinidad expressed no interest in going ahead with the deal.
“There were discussions to forge better bilateral relations, but none of these talks had anything much to do with Agriculture, so the land deal wasn’t raised,” the Minister said.
Even though then majority opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) was against the initiative, Holder said a few months ago that the Coalition Government is still interested in the deal.
“Oh yeah, we are interested in MoUs with any government,” Holder declared.
The Minister went further to say, “In fact, we are offering interior lands to investors from any country at very low rental.”
Holder explained that the Guyana Government does not have the resources to construct roads, airstrips and other amenities to open up Guyanese interior, but with being offered cheap lands, investors should not have any problem with constructing the necessary infrastructure.
“If we have investors coming in here to utilize interior lands and so, they would have to put in all the basic amenities–light, water, roads, airstrips and so.”
This, Holder pointed out, would benefit the land of many waters, even decades after the investors leave.
“You see, they can make their money and leave, but they can’t take their development with them.”
Meanwhile, the previous Trinidadian Government had said that the island was pursuing the initiative, given the fact that there is a significant demand for lands there.
The Island’s former Minister of Agriculture and Food Production, Devant Maharaj, had said that while Trinidad and Tobago does have fertile agricultural lands, these are spread across the twin islands, and cannot accommodate mega farms.
He explained that over the years, there has been tight competition between lands for housing and lands for agriculture.
“The Housing Ministry is mandated to provide subsidized housing for persons in Trinidad and Tobago. To date, we have close to 200,000 applications for housing and they only produced about 9,000 houses in the last three years. Before that, they produced about 2,000 houses, so this gives an idea about the intense competition we have,” the former Minister said during a visit to Guyana.
The then Trinidian Government had intensions to cultivate in Guyana, cash crops like corn, soya, legumes and cassava. They were also eying the rearing of fish and poultry.
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