The contribution of the farmers of Region Five to the development of the agriculture sector of the region was last evening recognised at the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority’s (MMA/ADA) annual open day and mini-exhibition at the authority’s headquarters, Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
Speaking at the activity which formed part of the calendar of events for Agriculture Month 2015, Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder said that he is aware of the demand for more land within the region for increased production. He therefore committed his ministry to ensuring that not only is more land made available, but that farmers are legitimate title holders.
He told the agriculturalists gathered that the work of farmers continues to be a significant contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“In fact, without the allocation of lands there can be no production. Region Five as we know continues to be a major producer of rice and cash crops as indeed, it has one of the largest acreages under rice cultivation,” he stated.
MMA/ADA supports nearly half of the national rice production, about 30-35 percent of all livestock (mostly cattle) production and 10-15 percent of national sugar production. It is clear that the role the authority plays is integral in enabling farmers to reap better yields, hence reducing cost of production, he stated.
Guyana is estimated to have about 220,000 acres for rice cultivation alone, and in excess of 500,000 acres for other crops. This does not include the thousands of acres available for sugar cultivation and huge swathes in the hinterland regions, which can be brought under cultivation to expand production in different areas.
Minister Holder informed the gathering that several projects are in the pipeline to improve the drainage and irrigation situation in the flood-prone Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary areas, “as we work to enhance the services provided to our farmers.”
“Agriculture remains the backbone of Guyana’s economy and as such we need to focus our attention on addressing constraints which may arise, so as to ensure that production and productivity are not affected.”
In fact, figures will show that agriculture is about 40% of the national economy and that means that it is extremely important and can help the country move forward, Minister Holder said.
For the second crop of this year, 41,705.9 hectares (103, 013 acres) has been sown while Region Five alone harvested 84,908 acres of paddy with farmers receiving 34 bags per acre.
To ensure that this vibrancy continues, Minister Holder advised that a decision has been taken to make available additional lands, not only for rice production, but also cattle rearing. These efforts are geared at improving productivity and production in an effort to further expand the industry.
Following the official opening which also saw presentations from the Chairman of the MMA Board, Dr. Kenneth Sealey, General Manager of the MMA, Aubrey Charles, there was an official tour of the various exhibits. Minister Holder accompanied by Permanent Secretary, George Jervis and MMA and other officials interacted with residents of the region and other invited guests.
Participating were the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Department, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco), and the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) among others.
Information pamphlets were distributed to the visitors on the various programmes and services offered by the MMA and careers that can be had from the agriculture sector.