Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo today officially launched Agriculture Month under the theme, “Food Security and Hinterland Development: Our National Priority”, at an Interfaith Ceremony in the Agriculture Ministry compound, Regent Street.
Declaring Agriculture month opened, the Prime Minister congratulated the Ministry for initiating a month-long awareness of activities.
In relation to the 2017 theme, the Prime Minister encouraged the Agri-Ministry to encourage new means of agriculture, as opposed to the traditional way in the hinterland regions. This, he believes, will encourage cultivation and assist in meeting the demands of the foreign market.
“For the first time in many years, we have recommenced shipment of rice to Cuba. We have also commenced new shipment of rice to Mexico…it is not easy to access the Mexican markets if you do not meet the standards they expect.”
He declared that this year’s Agriculture Month should reflect the inclusivity of all in the sector while making reference to the Chinese delegation conducting lessons in Oceanography and Aquaculture.
“I am very pleased that we have friends in different countries and institutions such as CARDI, IDB, FAO and other institutions who are willing to help us to provide training to provide specialised assistance to develop new agriculture in Guyana,” he opined.
In keeping with the tree planting exercise, the Prime Minister encouraged the attendees to exercise the tree planting initiative by planting more fruit trees. “We can all start on the basis that we have lands that could be planted with crops that could help your family and others.”
With aims to see more development in the agriculture sector, Nagamootoo revealed that he would like to see a forward policy of the distribution of agricultural lands to those in need of it.
He also charged the Agriculture Ministry to become more mobile during this month, and throughout the rest of the year to address issues of cultivators across the regions.
“There must be a new approach, a new culture of doing work so that people can access services and we can produce better crops, specialized crops. As you can see we will be commissioning a turmeric factory for the first time,” said Nagamootoo.
He then highlighted the necessity of food for persons on a daily basis, while noting how self-sufficient Guyana is in cultivation. He also commended the farming community in the country.
“In referring to the farming community, I include the fishing sector, both offshore and inland; the apiculturist for producing honey; the cattle and poultry rearers; to all those who in one form or shape contribute to our wealth of food and help us to be self-sufficient,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder in his remarks explained that over some period, farmers have faced numerous issues. However, he stated that his Ministry is ready to be more action-oriented and is encouraging persons to join forces with the government to ensure farmers benefit from such opportunities.
“The theme for 2017 reflects our commitment to our vision of hinterland development and to encourage a whole food-system approach to food security. The Ministry of Agriculture is committed to ensuring that there is a more productive, resilient and sustainable food production system in Guyana,” he said.
According to Holder, as part of boosting agriculture locally, the administration has prioritised the implementation of policies for the development of the Rupununi and Intermediate Savannahs. This, he explained, will highlight the hinterland as the next frontier for the nation’s agricultural development.
“Hinterland development in 2017-2018 and beyond will focus on improved infrastructure, the development of agricultural demonstration stations and research to enhance hinterland agriculture and help provide essential knowledge and evidence to farmers, food producers, retailers and consumers,” Holder said.
With efforts to enhance the rate of integration between the coast and the interior and to increase access to the hinterland resources, the Minister said his office has been working to have Agricultural Demonstration Stations in each of the main Eco-zones of Guyana.
Throughout the month, the Agriculture Ministry is expected to place emphasis on farmers and their contributions made over the years. The Ministry will observe National Tree Day in Region One, and the commissioning of the Tumeric Factory in Hosororo next week.