Govt lobbying CDB to fund aquaculture project in Guyana

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

President Dr Irfaan Ali has asked the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to mobilise funding for a massive aquaculture project in Guyana to serve regional as well as North American markets.

The Guyanese Head of State, who is the current Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), met with CDB President, Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon, on Saturday at State House in Georgetown. President Ali has been driving Caricom’s food security initiative – Vision 25 by 25, which seeks to reduce the Region’s high food import bill by 25 per cent by the year 2025.

During the meeting, discussions focused on the strategic role of the CDB in supporting the development agenda of its member states and its future plans.

Following that high-level meeting, President Ali disclosed during an event later Saturday evening that Guyana was eyeing a $4 billion aquaculture market in the United States. In fact, he noted that in the next five years, he wants Guyana to be the largest supplier for that market.

In order to achieve this target, the Guyanese Leader has pitched the project to the CDB officials.

“I told the CDB to launch a special instrument to mobilise the capital from all the pension funds in the Region and all the capital that exists in the Region, and let us build a world-class aquaculture sector in Guyana that will process and supply the US market – that is $4 billion.”

“We don’t even need to meet the US market, because if we create a regional instrument that brings in regional capital to build out the aquaculture industry here then every regional government has a responsibility to ensure that this is the supplier for their aquaculture market, because pension fund is invested in it and private capital from those countries is invested in it,” he posited.

The president outlined that while Guyana was opening up this opportunity for the region and was lobbying the CDB for funding, the country would not wait to develop its aquaculture industry and would move ahead with building it out.

Ali noted that this initiative formed part of the Guyana Government’s aggressive efforts to build out a first-class agro-industry.

This, he pointed out, will have to be on stream by 2030, in line with the Administration’s transformational plan for Guyana – Vision 2030.

The fundamental tenets of Vision 2030 cater for infrastructural, human, technological and social transformation; economic diversification; international positioning; equitable prosperous development; environmental responsibilities; sustainable advancement; service reorientation and security.

“We are working on Vision 2023 and we are going to be eating up the larger share of the aquaculture market of the US… We have to target that market. And how do we do it? Guyana has the most competitive natural environment. We have all these pension funds that exist in the Region. We have the Caribbean Development Bank,” he noted.

As a matter of fact, President Ali, as the Caricom Chairman, discussed strengthening the role of the CDB as a partner in providing project financing and development support to the Region during Saturday’s high-level meeting with the Bank’s President.

According to Caricom, the Chairman reaffirmed the importance of the CDB as a regional institution and development partner, and expressed confidence in its capacity to provide the support needed by member states in the pursuit of their sustainable development agendas. He stressed the need for increased responsiveness to the needs of the Region, proactiveness in programme development and project delivery and streamlining of operations to shorten the period between project identification, approval and completion.

Meanwhile, the CDB President informed of work being done by the Bank to develop a more strategic focus on resilient development priorities of the Region and on mobilisation of financial resources which could result in more affordable financing of projects.

The meeting also addressed concerns raised by member states ahead of the upcoming Caricom Heads of Government conference next month in Georgetown.

Also attending the meeting were Caricom Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett; Senior Executive Officer (Caricom), Michelle Micheir; Chief of Staff of the CDB, Andrea Power; and Advisor to the CDB, Ashaki Goodwin. President Ali was joined by Director of Presidential Affairs, Marcia Sharma, and the Finance Ministry’s Project Cycle Management Division Director, Dr Tarachand Balgobin.