Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
The traditional corporate sector, in the Caribbean and in Barbados in particular, is not known as risk takers. Quite frankly, we believe that the development of the region has been systematically hampered by this traditional corporate class which has deep roots in the retail trade and are often afraid to venture out of their comfort zones.
This fear has led to the virtual paralysis of agriculture and has left the door wide open for foreign investors to reap benefits in industries such as manufacturing and tourism. Even in the area of sports and other leisure activities, this corporate group has often ignored investment opportunities. They preferred to invest in: private yacht clubs, polo and other activities, which have no real appeal to the masses. However, it would be dishonest to argue that their investments in horse racing have not brought employment opportunities for the working class.
We have noted that the failure of the corporate elite to heavily invest in West Indies cricket, is a glaring example of leaving the field open to the Kerry Packers and Allen Stanfords ,sometimes with negative results, as was the case of Stanford. West Indies cricket was fractured to some degree by Kerry Packer but we survived that episode, quite well, because the players were handsomely rewarded. Stanford turned out to be a dishonest investor.
Against this background, we give our support to prominent Barbadian businessman and entrepreneur Sir Kyffin Simpson’s mega agricultural investment in Guyana. Sir Kyffin’s record as a model employer and his generosity to charitable causes are well known throughout Barbados. He is revered for having built the Suzuki motor vehicle franchise and more recently his investments in the petroleum industry have made him one of the most highly respected corporate citizens in the region.
According to the Nation Newspaper (Barbados): “The farm, located in Santa Fe in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region some 231 miles (or 371 km) south-west of Georgetown, will be producing rice, corn, soya, cow beans, guar and eventually moso bamboo trees primarily for export. Already 10 000 acres are being prepared for cultivation and this will be extended by another 30 000 acres as production is steadily increased. Sir Kyffin has the option of tripling this acreage if the venture proves successful.”
We are not surprised that his astute business mind has led him to the country of Guyana, which is abundant with land and other resources extremely suited to the agro business Sir Kyffin has in view. We also see his investment as a regional one and hopefully it inspires others to acknowledge that the Caribbean is one nation with abundant opportunities. We cannot continue to encourage insular economic planning and thinking. Caribbean citizens should be encouraged to invest in all Caribbean states.
We believe strongly that all those who follow Sir Kyffin’s achievements will wish him well with his Guyana mega agro business venture.