On Monday, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and several senior Government officials engaged 17 private sugarcane farmers and representatives of the co-op societies in Region Six where they were allowed to share concerns and ideas.
During the meeting, members of the co-op told the Vice President that some 12,000 acres of land are currently not being utilised, following the closure of the Skeldon Estate.
According to the farmers, collateral with the Bank only allows for the land to be used for sugarcane farming- which they explained has no profitability.
After hearing these concerns, Dr Jagdeo ordered that a team consisting of officials from the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture be formed to meet and consult with these farmers on other possible areas of production. Farmers so far have indicated an interest in rice, cash crop and hemp farming.
“Within two weeks this team has to report back to me. They have to come back here and come up with a full-fledged proposal which includes what we can do with the land, what we can shift it into and the cost of doing that” the Vice President posited.
Furthermore, Dr Jagdeo suggested the startup of a small sugarcane factory at the current Skeldon Estate. He noted that the Government will assist in this transformation.
Once this is converted, farmers will grow and grind the cane and then the Government will assist in finding a market for the sugar. However, he has also posited that this needs to be explored first.
“Let’s explore that and if the capital cost is too high then we can’t do that. But it is something to explore.”
The team has also been tasked with the responsibility to explore the opening up of an additional 5,000 acres of land.
He said it is in the PPP/C administration's best interest to ensure the viability of all Guyanese.
The members also noted that they are currently seeking jobs and the Vice President highlighted that some 3,000 part-time jobs will be created.
Persons can earn up to $40,000 per month and will be required to work three times per week.
These works will be aligned with that of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
The creation of part-time jobs is a short term initiative of the PPP/C Government to cushion Guyanese with the rising cost of living and also help them to regain employment.