Gold, bauxite, rice and sugar
Guyana’s economy rests on two pillars: agriculture and mining. Along with rice and sugar, bauxite, gold and diamonds are the most important export goods. Shrimp and wood are also exported. The economy has grown steadily in recent years, even in the global financial crisis since 2008.
Problems of the economy
Problems are the lack of skilled workers, natural disasters such as floods in particular, and poor infrastructure. The country is difficult to access and the rivers are mostly not navigable because there are many rapids and waterfalls. Above all, this hinders the economic development of the wooded hinterland.
Unemployment is 11 percent. 35 percent of the population are poor. The governments of Bharrat Jagdeo (1999-2011) and Donald Ramotar (2011-2015) are accused of corruption, embezzlement of funds and illegal tax breaks for India and China.
Agriculture contributes 15.4 percent to the country’s economic output. Sugar cane is one of the most important export goods. Like all other agricultural products, it is grown in the coastal plain. The harvested sugar cane is brought to the sugar factories on barges via canals. The barges are in turn pulled from the bank by tractors.
Rice is grown for its own use, but also for export, largely by Indian small farmers who were brought into the country by the English after the abolition of slavery. Other products include wheat, bananas, coconuts, coffee, cocoa, citrus fruits and pumpkins.
Peanuts are not grown on the coast but in the south. However, these are often affected by fungal toxins (aflatoxins) due to high temperatures and humidity and may only be sold after investigations.
Cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry are also raised in Guyana. Fishing is growing in importance. Shrimp in particular are exported.
15.3 percent of the total economic output is generated in industry. Sugar and rice are processed there as well as wood and textiles.
The most important industrial sector is mining. Gold and bauxite are mined. There are three huge gold mines in the northwest of the country. They are among the largest gold mines in the world. In the area around Linden, a place that emerged as a mining town, bauxite is mined in open-cast mining. After processing, the bauxite is exported. The production facilities in Linden cover 90 percent of global demand. 95 percent of the bauxite is the starting product for the important and coveted light metal aluminum, but bauxite is also required for the construction of refractory systems.
Since 2013 there has been a search for oil and natural gas off the coast. In 2015, the American oil company Exxon Mobil found promising deposits. But because the stretch of coast with the drilling belongs to the area claimed by Venezuela, there was then another border dispute between the two countries. Now Venezuela no longer buys rice from Guyana and, in turn, no longer delivers oil to Guyana.
69.3 percent of the economy comes from services. This includes trade, gastronomy, finance (i.e. banks), energy and telecommunications. Tourism has hardly played a role so far.
Eating in Guyana
Multicultural food in Guyana
What do you think you eat in Guyana? Many cultures have influenced the cuisine of Guyana including the African, Indian, Portuguese, Chinese, British and of course indigenous cultures. It has a lot in common with Caribbean cuisine, especially that of Trinidad. Rice is one of the main foods. Soups and stews are also very popular. Cassava, yams, corn, plantains, pumpkins and melons are ingredients that the Indians used.
The curries come from Indian cuisine. This is the name given to a dish made from chopped up meat or fish in a thick sauce. As in India, a curry is served with rice and bread, for example roti.
The national dish: Pepperpot
Pepperpot is considered the national dish of Guyana. It goes back to the Arawak and Caribs, the indigenous indigenous people. In addition to meat (beef, pork or sheep), cassareep is a must. This is the thickened, black juice from boiled cassava tubers. It gives the stew a bittersweet taste and colors the food dark. Cinnamon and chilies also flavor. Pepperpot has to cook for hours and has become a popular Christmas dinner, traditionally being eaten for breakfast! There is also bread.
Chow my and Lo my
Chow mein is of Chinese origin. Chow mein are fried Chinese noodles. They are combined with meat (mostly chicken) and vegetables to make a delicious dish. Lo mein is also from China. It is a soup that the noodles are served with separately.
Cook-up rice is much more common than pepper pots. That means something like “boiled rice”. It is available in all possible variants. In any case, rice and beans belong in it. There can then be fish or meat. You can find a recipe for cook-up rice in the participation tip !
Juices made from fruits or nuts are popular. Lime Wash is a type of lemonade. Mauby is the name of a drink made from the bark of buckthorn plants. You boil the pieces of bark and add sugar and spices such as anise, cloves and cinnamon.
From peanut butter, milk and sugar is Peanut Punch made (peanut punch). Ginger roots are used to make ginger beer (it is called “beer”, but it is alcohol-free) and hibiscus is used to make sorrel.