Large-scale soybean farm proposed for north Rupununi

A company is looking to undertake large-scale soybean cultivation in the north Rupununi and has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for authorisation.

JOHIL Green Farms has submitted an application for environmental authorization for the project which would span 5,000 acres in the vicinity of the Lamparino Lake in the North Rupununi Savannah in Region 9. According to an EPA ad in the Sunday Chronicle, the proposed site lies on land formerly held by the Manari Cattle Company and is bordered by the Takutu River to the west.

The EPA said that the development may have significant impacts on the environment and invited the public to write the agency with any questions and concerns within 28 days so that this can be addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The EPA said that the project would entail water being used from the Takutu River for irrigation, usage of certain methods for cultivating soybeans as well as the use of fertilisers and pesticides and the construction of buildings, irrigation and ancillary facilities, irrigation canals, drilling of groundwater wells and access roads.

The ad said that the project proposal is available on the EPA website but when Stabroek News checked, the website was down. In the recent past, project proposals which the agency had said were available on its website had not been placed there.

At least one company, Santa Fe is conducting large scale farming in the area. Santa Fe is cultivating rice on a large scale and the paddy is exported to Brazil for milling.

Other companies are exploring setting up large-scale farms here. In December, 15 potential large-scale agriculture investors from Trinidad and Tobago scouted possible sites in the Canje Basin as part of a year-old Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Guyana.

Out of the areas that were originally settled upon in the MOU: corn, soya, cassava, legumes, small ruminants and aquaculture, both Trinidad’s and Guyana’s Agriculture Ministers highlighted corn and soya as the most likely front runners.

Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy had told Stabroek News that this was a long-term plan and hence liquidity was essential as large-scale farming was not an overnight operation. Ramsammy stated that the investors were responsible for conducting scoping exercises.

He said that the lands available in the Canje Basin and Intermediate Savannahs were suitable to grow certain crops and that investors would need to be aware of these things.

The MOU was said to still be in the initial stages, with no confirmed investors and no firmed up projects. Neither Ramsammy nor his counterpart touched on areas other than the Canje Basin that may have been visited. Last year, teams from Trinidad visited several areas, including Mahaica-Berbice. While additional technical teams were here for the two-day period, no findings have been released from the technical visits last year after the signing of the MOU.

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