A five- year action plan, which is expected to significantly boost the food and nutrition situation in Region Nine, was handed over to the Ministers of Agriculture, Business and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, during the Rupununi and Agriculture Exposition 2015. The annual event, which was held under the theme, “Promoting Entrepreneurial Development through Partnerships”, was held at the Triple ‘R’ Rodeo Ground, Tabatinga, Lethem.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, in delivering remarks during the Rupununi Exposition, echoed the call for farmers to capitalise on activities such as these, not only to build network, but also to strengthen market linkages.
He added that enhanced focus will be placed on agricultural interventions such as input subsidies and technology transfer, to better contribute to the social protection of farmers, especially at the small and medium scale levels.
“Our Government has made a commitment to provide a good life to all our citizens, and I believe agriculture has a major role to play in addressing these social issues, food insecurity, and economic development.”
The Agriculture Minister reminded the gathering of the potential which lies within the region, alluding to the fact that agriculture development of the Hinterland region remains a top priority for the Ministry of Agriculture.
Government, in its 2015 Manifesto, spoke of the development of the Hinterland as a priority, with the implementation of policies, particularly for development of the Intermediate and Rupununi Savannahs.
The Intermediate Savannahs has long been considered as the next frontier for agricultural development, as Guyana’s agriculture efforts are primarily concentrated on the Coast, which is below sea level and increasingly being exposed to the ravages of climate change.
According to Minister Holder, the transfer of the country’s economic base inland has to be a priority if there will be sustainable development. Among the plans which the Ministry will be pursuing are; an Agriculture Station being built at Manari, Pasture, Nursery Development, and Rainwater Harvesting among others.
The importance of not only accessing food, but also developing land and establishing market linkages was underscored by Mr. Sydney Allicock, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, who added that these remain critical for survival of the Region’s people.
According to the Minister, the time for action is now, if the region is to fully capitalise on its potential as an agriculture frontier.
“This is necessary, as it is the only way we will overcome food shortages in the Region…works such as these strategies, and interventions being undertaken at the Ministries of Agriculture and Indigenous Affairs remain critical,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Investment and Business Mr. Dominic Gaskin, who officially opened the Business Expo, spoke of the importance of the event in linking buyers to market.
He added that efforts in 2015 will provide a better picture of advancement and opportunities in the region, as the prospects remain endless.
Integrated Sustainable Agriculture Development Strategy for Region Nine (the Rupununi) is the response to policy recommendations, emanating from the State and Food of Agriculture in the Rupununi (SOFA) study, that was done by the UN-FAO, CI-Guyana and the Ministry of Agriculture in 2014.
The Strategy, which is expected to improve food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, and enable sustainable and integrated development of local communities, is built on five goals. Among those include:
- The Integrated Sustainable Agriculture Development Strategy will improve food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, and enable sustainable and integrated development of local communities
- Strengthen coordination between agricultural related institutions: to improve public and private sector linkages; and to promote a more business-like approach to agriculture.
- Enhance food systems production, diversification, efficiency and profitability.
- Enhance the growth, competitiveness and efficiency of marketing systems and agro-food enterprises both in the domestic and international markets and
- Develop Infrastructure and Services in support of Agricultural expansion.
During the Rupununi Exposition, a variety of locally grown and manufactured agricultural commodities were on display. The event was held from October 30- November 1, 2015.