Large private agri projects should pay for services provided by NAREI – Homenauth

Dr. Oudho Homenauth

While the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) should continue to perform its service-related functions to the country’s agricultural sector including its role in providing valuable technical support to privately-run projects, there exists a case for attaching fees to services provided by the Institute, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) Dr. Oudho Homenauth has told the Stabroek Business.

Responding to a question raised by the Stabroek Business regarding the need for the state-funded research and extension entity to enhance its self-supporting capacity, Dr. Homenauth declared that while the services offered by NAREI are important to the viability of the large numbers of local small farmers with limited resources, there exists a case for attaching fees to some of the services provided by the agency that enhance both the efficiency and  the profitability of large agricultural operations. Homenauth said that such charges should be “separate and distinct” from contracts which NAREI undertakes for private agricultural investments.

Currently in its thirty-fourth year of existence   NAREI was established by an Act of Parliament arising out of the outcomes of a 1982 study designed “to identify alternatives for the management of agricultural research in Guyana” and undertaken by the Netherlands-based International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR).

With the broad responsibility of NAREI including devising “appropriate systems to promote balanced, diversified and sustained agricultural development and optimize agricultural production through adaptive and investigative research” for agricultural initiatives in both the state and private sector, Homenauth feels that where there are justifiable instances costs should be applied to  services which the Institute provides. Homenauth told Stabroek Business that the costs associated with the services provided by NAREI are likely to become increasingly onerous. “If, for example, we are to move further in the direction of commercial agriculture we are going to have to look beyond our labour force and begin to deal with mechanization,”  Homenauth said, adding that there are likely to be increased costs associated with servicing a highly mechanized agricultural sector.

The NAREI Chief Executive Officer, meanwhile, told Stabroek Business that some measure of cost recovery is already justifiable when account is taken of the significant state-funded investments in overseas training that play a considerable role in adding value to the Institute’s role in servicing the agricultural sector.

“If we are talking about agricultural projects that amount to major private sector investments then there is a case for compensating NAREI for the services that it provides,” Homenauth said.