Guyanese farmers play a critical role in supplying produce to the entire Caribbean region. Because it grows a huge amount of sugar and rice, the country is often called the breadbasket of this part of the world. GBTI’s position as the largest lender to the agricultural industry in Guyana gives it the honor of being part of this important business.
At GBTI, we proud to work closely with our clients through the GBTI agricultural loans program. Our banking officers take a genuine interest in assisting agricultural entrepreneurs with all aspects of financing and related needs. Here is some interesting information GBTI can offer about food production in Guyana.
Agricultural Expertise in Guyana
Guyanese farmers have hundreds of years of agricultural experience. This includes not only growing a diverse range of cash crops and cane farming, but also expertise with livestock, poultry and aquaculture. This has allowed the country to be quite self-sufficient when it comes to food production and to develop a thriving export market as well. Over the years, agricultural products have included cocoa, coffee, coconut, copra, vegetables, fruit, and tobacco.
Only about 5 percent of Guyana is suitable for crop cultivation. However, impressively, this relatively small coastal plain area has supported a thriving agricultural industry and been a prime contributor to the country’s economy. GBTI works with many farmers who grow their produce in the rich fertile soil of this region.
Since the land suitable for cultivation is actually below sea level (1 meter below sea level even at high-tide, in fact) farms are protected from encroaching water with a system of dams and dikes. This can definitely make agriculture more challenging. Also, the cost of safeguarding the land and any potential expansion of farms can be quite costly, often making a partnership with GBTI invaluable to the success of these enterprising farmers.
Rice Farming in Guyana
Rice has long been a staple in diets throughout the Caribbean region and beyond. In Guyana, this versatile foodstuff is grown for the domestic market. It is also one of the main agricultural exports to neighboring Caribbean countries and even buyers further afield.
Rice farming is not for the faint of heart. Over the decades, rice production has been impacted by inconsistent weather patterns bringing both droughts and heavy rains. This can certainly affect not only the capacity to produce sufficient large crops, but also the financial resources of farming operations. One crucial mitigation is to have in place is well-maintained irrigation and drainage systems.
Today the majority of rice farming is carried out on small privately- or family-owned properties. In addition, mill operations that farmers rely on are mainly privately-owned. Rice milling is an important step in the post-production process to ensure an edible product free of impurities and ready for consumption.
GBTI supports rice farmers and millers alike with financing for their individual business needs. This includes loans for buying land, machinery and equipment, paddy fields, fertilizer and fuel and lubricants.
Sugarcane Agriculture in Guyana
Another prominent crop that Guyana is known for is sugar. Like rice, this product is consumed in great quantities in the country itself and much of it is sold throughout the Caribbean. Sugar production depends on somewhat larger scale operations, many of which use to be privately-owned.
However, in the mid-1970s, the Guyanese government got involved in managing this crop via plantations on state-owned land. For a variety of reasons, this led to a reduction in production. When a combination of droughts, floods and diseases in the 1980s impacted a large portion of the sugarcane crop, farmers began growing a more disease-resistant variety that further reduced output.
In recent years, when the guaranteed price of sugar fell, the government restructured the sugar industry to increase profitability by closing down large government-run sugar estates and privatizing the industry once again. Cane farming is one of the agricultural businesses that GBTI provides considerable assistance to. Having a reliable bank with a wide range of financing products and an in-depth knowledge of the agricultural sector is a huge benefit to sugar producers.
The Future of Rice and Sugar in Guyana
Rice and sugar continue to figure prominently in Guyana’s overall export market. In recent years, Guyanese farmers have seen an increase in profits from rice exports. Despite some challenges, sugarcane farming has once again become profitable, given the country’s place as the largest sugar producer in the Caribbean.
Significantly, the agriculture sector employs 30 percent of Guyana’s workforce and makes up one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the cultivation of non-traditional products is on the rise and these goods are also being sold throughout the Caribbean, the country continues to be known for its rice and sugar production.
GBTI is grateful for the privilege of contributing to these worthy agricultural enterprises.