Carana Agribusiness, an aquaculture and agriculture development company based in Guyana, has had a very eventful five months since we first ran an article on the company last fall. This week, we caught up with CEO Patrick Henry about the process of finally putting its business strategies into practice in the fertile, yet vastly untapped, South American country. According to Henry, progress has been coming along faster than expected.
“We had a good idea about how the process would go, but everything came together rapidly once we actually got started,” Henry said about Carana Agribusiness’s growth following its October 2014 launch. “If anything, we were initially too conservative in how we thought we could get things done. Now we know we can move this quickly and scale out this fast.”
Carana Agribusiness is an independent branch of parent company CARANA Corporation, an American developmental consulting firm that plans and implements business strategies around the world, and has spent over a decade managing projects in Guyana, including the USAID’s Guyana Trade and Investment Support project. Experience in the country helped the team realize that a more active, industry-wide approach was necessary in building profitable farms and establishing new markets, Henry said.
Carana Agribusiness is now working to raise equity for its next round of farm expansion, which will have its operations scale up to 500 acres over the next two years. Revenue is expected to grow from $650,000 in 2015 to $8 million by 2018.
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The company supports a local network of contract farmers, and owns and manages two 30-acre anchor farms—the land is leased to Carana Agribusiness under a long-term contract with private growers—that will harvest and sell habanero peppers, passion fruit, and tambaqui, an Amazonian river fish, to pre-committed buyers this summer. According to Carana Agribusiness, these specialty products are commercially viable, with proven appeal in local and international markets. Committed buyers include Caribbean sauce processors Spur Tree Jamaican and Rainforest Guyana for all pepper outputs; Demerera Distillers Limited, a Guyanese juice concentrate plant, for up to 2,000 acres of passion fruit; and as local demand is satisfied and farmland scales up, a partner in neighboring Suriname for fish. In addition, there could be a possible shipping agreement in the works with Florida-based seafood wholesaler Sammy’s Seafood.
After raising $200,000 in seed capital last year, Carana Agribusiness’s first step was jumpstarting construction on its 30-acre aquaculture operation by digging out and stocking up ponds with 40,000 juvenile tambaqui. The fish will be mature and ready for market by June or July, at which time they are projected to reel in a maximum of $250,000 in revenue.
Back on land, preparation for farmland is nearly complete—the irrigation equipment just needs assembling—and hot pepper crops will be planted by early April. After harvesting, the peppers will be made into mash, a fermented pepper paste used as a primary ingredient in hot sauce, before being sold in July. Carana Agribusiness expects pepper mash to pull in $400,000 this year.
“After we successfully manage 500 acres of land, our next expansion will take us to 3,000-4,000 acres,” Henry said. When it comes to Carana Agribusiness’s future in Guyana, Henry sees international market interest and large-scale farms on the horizon. “Carana Agribusiness is an investment vehicle,” he told us last year. “As long as we raise capital and profit, we will move forward.”
FEATURED IMAGE: CARANA Agribusiness