- Minister Mustapha talks Government’s vision to further market & develop agro-processing sector
Earlier today, Agriculture Ministers from across the Region met with Director General of the Inter American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) to discuss strengthening ties and improving Regional agricultural collaborations.
One of the most notable areas highlighted was the need for intensified collaborations among sister states to increase Regional import and export of crops and other agricultural commodities. Additionally, the Ministers discussed knowledge sharing to strengthen their marine management systems.
During their discussion, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha spoke about Government’s vision as it relates to marketing and developing Guyana’s agro-processing industry, and the role IICA is expected to play in in offering support during the process.
“Our vision is to shift agriculture from primary producer to value-added, to reduce Guyana’s 41% dependence on imports, which translates to a Food Import Bill of GUY$45Billion. We are cognizant of IICA’s role in trade, and therefore, we ask for your support to accelerate a shift towards becoming a more market-led agri-food sector, to provide the needed technology and technical knowledge in the agro-processing industry, specifically, in processing technology and techniques, to facilitate training and development for Food Safety and good manufacturing practices for agro-processors, and assistance with marketing, more specifically social media marketing in terms of assisting with the participation of trade shows and exhibitions locally, regionally and extra-regionally,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also mentioned that, through support from IICA, Guyana was able to commence its Dairy Value Chain Study.
“This is fundamental, as we develop this industry, to reduce the importation of dairy and dairy by-products,” Minister said.
IICA’s Director General, Manuel Otero said that agricultural development in the Americas has to be specially focused on the more vulnerable Regions like South America and the Caribbean.
“Although I’m not an expert on Caribbean agricultural matters, my attention is concentrated on two issues. The first is related to the urgent need to reduce the food import bill, with emphasis on promoting sustainable food and nutrition security. The other is in relation to climate change, recognizing the importance of putting into practice more resilient agricultural practices. For this reason, we have an infrastructure represented by national offices in fourteen CARICOM States,” Mr. Otero said.
The participating Ministers of Agriculture also lobbied for greater collaborations in greenhouse production and knowledge sharing as it relates to the coconut value chain.
Suriname’s Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Rabindre Parmessar, said that the forum was suitable to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on the productive sectors and the lessons learnt. He further cautioned the Ministers, saying that “We cannot continue with the way we were producing. We have to be strategic in our production going forward,”
Over the years, IICA’s partnership with Guyana has birthed many of developmental achievements in the agriculture sector. Some of these included the support for projects which helped Guyana to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector; the strengthening of agriculture’s contribution to the development of rural areas and the well-being of the rural population; the improvement of agricultural capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and make better use of natural resources.
Following a meeting with several residents and farmers from Belladrum, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha has once again made good on a commitment to ensure critical drainage works are carried out.
During the meeting, which was held in the village last Saturday, residents complained bitterly of the blatant neglect to critical drainage channels over the last few years, which results in flooding of several communities during the rainy season.
Minister Mustapha instructed officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to put systems in place to have works carried out on a number of drains and canals in the area. In less than seven days, NDIA was able to deploy the requisite resources to commence critical works on the AD 60A main drainage canal, which is over 3.4 miles long.
While offering a comment on the works, Minister Mustapha said that the time when Government officials would make empty promises to people can be considered a thing of the past.
“This is a clear demonstration that the Government means business. As Minister of Agriculture, I will ensure I make good on all the commitments made to the people of Guyana. I cannot sit in my office knowing that our farmers, who continue to invest their scarce resources to develop the agriculture sector, live with some amount of uncertainty of the safety of their investments because the Government fails to provide its mandated services. I met with the farmers and residents on Saturday last and in less than a week, our Ministry was able to deliver,” Minister Mustapha said.
The works which are currently ongoing, are being executed to the sum of close to $2M and is set to benefit over 1000 acres of farm lands upon completion.
NDIA will also be carrying out works to have a residential drain cleared within the next few days.
Honorable Ministers of Latin America Region and the Caribbean,
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Agriculture sustains the majority of rural livelihoods in Guyana. However, our agri-food system lags in comparison to the other sectors in adopting digitalization. Investing in digital technologies tends to be knowledge-intensive and expensive. They come with operational risks and the need for continued monitoring and updating that are often very demanding for traditional small farmers. Additionally, many agricultural regions in Guyana are remote and accessibility is difficult. There are also challenges of e-infrastructure and connectivity. According to the ICT Development Index, in 2017 approximately 34% of Guyanese have access to the internet. This is far below the regional average.
However, the government intends to change this with our infrastructure plan. Moreover, Guyana has recently liberalized its telecommunication industry, this will allow for faster internet, more efficient, less costly, and better bandwidth. In anticipation of this, it is important to start preparing rural area farmers, especially youth, to use digital technologies that have been developed for increasing agriculture productivity.
This is especially relevant now in times of COVID-19 pandemic.
Our farmers need accurate local weather forecasts, advice on agricultural practices, input use, including the use of agricultural tools with digital technologies embedded in them, and real-time information about prices and market logistics. Access to digital tools and updated production and market information will allow farmers to be more productive and competitive. While we have some achievements in these areas, we need to establish outreach programs that include more of these technologies. This requires training of agricultural technology specialists in these technologies and promoting their availability through a joint effort with the private sector.
Thus, recognizing that ICTs can be highly complex and require proper training in its operation and maintenance Guyana requests that the FAO expand their programs in the region in these areas. There is a need for specialized staff at the level of the ministry, in the identified agrotechnological areas, that will be able to train farmers. Also, there is a need for consideration of incentives for farmers to access digital tools.
Therefore, harnessing the rapid growth of the internet and associated digital technologies such as mobile phones, soil testing kits, digital planting, and harvesting equipment, would be critical in helping farmers to obtain the information they need in making farm management decisions and promoting transformative agricultural development.
We, therefore, request greater assistance from the FAO and other development partners to strengthen our technical capacities to develop innovative and digital policy agendas, increase usage of digital and innovative agriculture practices for access to extension services, farmers and agro-processors, improving the marketing of outputs, and facilitating logistics.
As we work globally to adopt increased food security and agricultural innovation policies, digitalization and the development of an innovative agriculture system will be needed to increase efficiency and productivity in the sector as safe, affordable, and nutritious food is made available to the population.
A review of our Agriculture Disaster Risk Management strategy is necessary to ensure that updated ICTs are being promoted to ensure that there is access to all relevant information on time that can minimize the effects of disasters in the agriculture sector.
Additionally, with the support of FAO TCP resources, we are currently implementing “Strengthening the rice-production monitoring system in Guyana and investigating value chain opportunities” to improve the rice-production monitoring system and training of relevant staff in the use of the upgraded system. We aim to extend this to other important sub-sectors.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is an undeniable need to strengthen our agriculture research and technological innovation systems. For the region to move forward together, where no country is left behind, initiatives at both the national and regional levels are important.
The suggested actions by the Regional Conference are welcomed initiatives to improve agriculture development in Guyana and the region. Particularly we support the concept of the International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture and call for the establishment of the Council.
Following a series of reports about the lack of adequate drainage and irrigation by farmers during a recent visit to the Belle East/Belle West area, Region Three, a number of canals are currently being cleared and desilted.
This was made possible through an immediate intervention by Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, who noticed himself, that there was an urgent need for critical works to be carried out on the main canal in the area.
Minister Mustapha said, that as Minister of Agriculture, he will ensure his visits to communities bear fruit and that issues raised are addressed with extreme urgency.
“When I visited the village, while driving along the main access road, I was somewhat disappointed with the state of the main canal. During the meeting with farmers and residents, a number of persons complained of instances of flooding as a result of the silted canal and drains. I made a commitment to the residents, that I will ensure the canal is cleared. NDIA officials were there and I immediately instructed the Regional Engineer to commence works to get the canal cleared. Within a few days, we were able to do what the previous Government failed to do in five years – deliver on promises made to the Guyanese people. This is just one of the many projects of this nature that my Ministry will undertake within the coming months,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha further stated that, with the Region being one of Guyana’s main agriculture producing Regions, adequate drainage and irrigation, coupled with regular maintenance of canals and drains, will be considered a top priority under the work programmes of NDIA.
Back in 2018, heavy rainfall led to the flooding of a number of low-lying areas in Region Three (West Demerara – Essequibo Islands), including Canal Number One, West Bank Demerara. For years, residents have been requesting that additional drains be dug, in addition to regularly clearing the drains already established.
Prior to that in 2017, over 200 families saw their homes being under water as a result of flooding, due to heavy rainfall and the lack of proper drainage systems.
NDIA is currently carrying out similar works in a number of farming communities in several Regions across the Coast.
Today, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha participated in the 36th Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Regional Conference.
The three-day virtual conference is the organization’s official forum where ministers of agriculture and high officials of Member States from the same geographic region, meet to elaborate, beyond the borders of the individual countries, on challenges and priority matters related to food and agriculture, with a view of promoting regional coherence on global policies and political issues.
During his first presentation which focused on ‘hand in hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies’, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said that countries must work together, towards ensuring that there are sustainable agriculture policies and measures that contribute to poverty reduction in our rural communities.
“Improving farmers’ livelihoods in rural areas and diversifying the rural economies through the enhanced competitiveness of the agriculture sector is a priority of the Ministry of Agriculture. This requires working assiduously with the Public Sector, Private Sector, and International Organizations to implement programmes that will increase agricultural productivity and income of farmers. Not forgetting, south-south cooperation and integration, as an essential tool for strengthening alliances in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Minister Mustapha said.
He further stated that in order to make informed policy decisions for prosperous and inclusive rural communities, improving agricultural and rural statistics is a priority of the Government of Guyana.
“The Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana is therefore committed to working with the FAO to prepare a Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics. The FAO’s support to the Ministry of Agriculture to prepare a National Strategy integrating the SDGs in its National Agricultural Planning will aid the promotion of working Hand-in-Hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies in Guyana,” Minister Mustapha said.
During his presentation on ‘sustainable and climate resilient agriculture’, Minister Mustapha said that with increased investments in crops with low carbon footprints sectors, such as fruits and vegetables and aquaculture, Guyana envisions a transformation of the food system to include innovation and initiatives that drive changes at each stage of the production chain.
“Some of the sustainable climate-resilient productive agriculture systems, being undertaken in Guyana include, crop diversification to adjust to the new temperature and precipitation patterns, changing livestock breeding practices and shifting grazing patterns, developing and managing climate-resilient food production systems, developing and using drought and flood-tolerant crop varieties and adopting water and soil moisture conservation measures,” Minister Mustapha said.
The subject Minister went on to mention that Guyana has long been classified as a high risk flood country and there is the risk of greater frequency and intensity, with the greatest vulnerability experienced within the coastal zone.
“The coastal area accounts for around 90% of the country’s population, this is the same area with most of the agricultural activities. Farmers who face increasing exposure to disaster can find themselves trapped in a cycle of food insecurity and poverty. Therefore, the high risk of climate related disaster in our agriculture activities requires enhanced mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation strategies,” Minister Mustapha said.
Being the highest governing body of the Organization at Regional level, Regional conferences are essential for ensuring the effectiveness of the FAO regional work in the service of Member States but also in the definition of its priority areas of work for the following biennium.
Ministers of Agriculture from the regions actively take part in the Conference, with representatives of regional, intra-regional and international organizations, civil society and the private sector being welcome as observers to the sessions of the conferences.
Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Madanlall Ramraj, is expected to make a presentation on behalf of the Ministry during day three of the conference.
Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.
We are living in unprecedented times that require agriculture to be sustainable and climate-resilient now more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the challenges faced by our farmers and the agri-food system.
Guyana sees this as an opportunity to accelerate transformations in the food and agriculture sector by building the resilience of our farmers and the supply chain system. We, therefore, prioritize initiatives that increase technological innovations, greater investment in research, human capital, and better policies and regulations.
We are grateful to the strong commitment of the FAO over the years in their support to Latin America and Caribbean countries (including Guyana) as we work together to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the agriculture component outlined in the Paris Agreement and the many other agri-environmental agreements.
We recognize the leading role of the FAO in supporting countries in their transitioning towards sustainable agriculture and food systems. We are indeed thankful to the FAO for its tangible support to countries in accessing climate financing. In the Caribbean and Guyana, FAO has been working to scale up climate investment for the agricultural sector. There must be much more urgency and vital importance of securing large scale climate financing such as Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Adaptation Fund, which can support scaling up of good agriculture practices so that they can have significant and transformational impacts.
Guyana is currently partnering with the FAO in ‘Setting the Foundation for Strategic Climate Change Interventions for the Agricultural sector’ to strengthen our national designated authorities, and strategic frameworks, and support for accreditation and accredited direct access entities. Additionally, to mobilize funding from the Green Climate Fund, we are working on project proposal for a multi-year, programmatic approach to invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development to deal with the issues of climate change.
Low Carbon Economy: Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions
With increased investments in crops with low carbon footprints sectors, such as fruits and vegetables and aquaculture, Guyana envisions a transformation of the food system to include innovation and initiatives that drive changes at each stage of the production chain.
Some of the sustainable climate-resilient productive agriculture systems, being undertaken in Guyana include, crop diversification to adjust to the new temperature and precipitation patterns, changing livestock breeding practices and shifting grazing patterns, developing and managing climate-resilient food production systems, developing and using drought and flood-tolerant crop varieties and adopting water and soil moisture conservation measures.
We invite FAO to continue to support our action in scaling-up sustainable initiatives and to assist with new sustainable technologies and resilient and low-emission innovative models and practices.
Promoting Blue Growth
Guyana is blessed with freshwater and there is potential for greater development in our Fisheries Industry. As the fishing and aquaculture industry expands, systems will be put in place to ensure that this is done in a sustainable manner that maintains low GHG emissions. In 2016, Guyana signed onto the ‘Port of State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and with the support of FAO, has been strengthening our capability to deal with illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
We request continued support in improving national systems for the evaluation and monitoring of fisheries resources and strengthening our aquaculture producers for sustainable and resilient value chains.
Agriculture Disaster Risk Management: Making farmers more resilient to climate change
Climate hazards are a cause of global food insecurity and hunger, particularly when they compound existing economic vulnerability.
Guyana has long been classified as a high risk flood country and there is the risk of greater frequency and intensity, with the greatest vulnerability experienced within the coastal zone. The coastal area accounts for around 90% of the country’s population, this is the same area with most of the agricultural activities. Farmers who face increasing exposure to disaster can find themselves trapped in a cycle of food insecurity and poverty. Therefore, the high risk of climate related disaster in our agriculture activities requires enhanced mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation strategies.
The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) estimated that recent flooding events (2006 and 2008) affected approximately 17% of the total population of Guyana and resulted in cumulative economic damage of US$ 183,700,000. Additionally, 19% of the agriculture value was damaged or lossed during the period 2006-2016 in the Small Island Development States in the Caribbean.
In conclusion, we agree that this transformation of agriculture will not take place on its own, strong political commitment is needed, as well as changes in policies, investments, and alliances. We recognize the FAO as an alliance for our government to be successful and pledge our continued partnership.
I advise my fellow Ministers of Agriculture, that we must not just come to conferences and talk and bring ideas, but we must ensure that those ideas and thoughts are put into practice so that we can alleviate the poverty and suffering of our farmers. We should give the support necessary for our farmers produce because they are the people who are producing the wealth in our country.
In closing Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the FAO for giving us this opportunity to air our views and collaborate with our partners so that we can develop agriculture in our countries. Our Government’s aim is to ensure that we create wealth in the country so that our people can live well in a united society. Once again, I am very happy that we are putting out views to the world so that they can listen to Guyana and take active participation from Guyana. We have developed the ‘Jagdeo’s Initiative’, which was adapted by CARICOM and is very useful for development in the Caribbean and around the world. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.
Hand-in-Hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies
Minister of Agriculture in Nicaragua
Ministers of Agriculture and your delegation in Latin America and the Caribbean,
Representatives of the Latin America and Caribbean countries,
Delegations from the United Nations, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, the private sector and academia
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the Government of Guyana I am pleased to speak on the “Hand-in-Hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies” initiative.
Please allow me first to thank the government of Nicaragua and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) team for their efforts to make this conference successful.
Working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Government of Guyana lauds the FAO’s Hand-in-Hand initiative, which promotes the goal of achieving the SDGs, especially SDG 1 and 2. The Ministry of Agriculture is cognizant of the fact that of the 169 targets included in the SDGs, 78 percent depend on actions undertaken in rural areas of the world.
It is a well-known fact, that economic growth in agriculture is about three times more effective at reducing poverty and food insecurity than growth in other sectors. As most of our poorest and hungriest live in rural areas and are involved in agricultural activities. Investment in agriculture is therefore critical for the resuscitation of rural livelihoods in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and enabling the rural economy to recover.
We must work together, towards ensuring that there are sustainable agriculture policies and measures that contribute to poverty reduction in our rural communities.
Therefore, improving farmers’ livelihoods in rural areas and diversifying the rural economies through the enhanced competitiveness of the agriculture sector is a priority of the Ministry of Agriculture. This requires working assiduously with the Public Sector, Private Sector, and International Organizations to implement programmes that will increase agricultural productivity and income of farmers. Not forgetting, south-south cooperation and integration, as an essential tool for strengthening alliances in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In order to make informed policy decisions for prosperous and inclusive rural communities, improving agricultural and rural statistics is a priority of the Government of Guyana. The Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana is therefore committed to working with the FAO to prepare a Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics. The FAO’s support to the Ministry of Agriculture to prepare a National Strategy integrating the SDGs in its National Agricultural Planning will aid the promotion of working Hand-in-Hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies in Guyana.
Investment: A Key component to strengthening the new rural development agenda
In Guyana, Agriculture Month is observed in October, this year our theme is “Investing in Agriculture for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development.” One of the key components to strengthening the rural development agenda is the strengthening of budgets for inclusive and sustainable rural development. Investment in the development of public goods such as agricultural mechanization, innovation, infrastructure, technical assistance, and access to farm to markets in rural areas is important for development.
Realistically, it is not feasible for a government budget to sufficiently finance all the projects necessary. Therefore, increased investments through enhanced international cooperation with organizations such as the FAO are welcomed. However, we are aware that funding from international organisations has its limitations and therefore private investment and public-private partnerships are encouraged to increase the coverage of public goods and services, particularly in the rural communities.
Some of the measures we have begun are the creating an enabling business environment for the private sector by reducing burdensome taxes and other budgetary support. Additionally, we are strengthening our alliances with the private sector and have started internally to have open dialogue. With the FAO’s support, we intend to widen this to the Caribbean and Latin American countries to supply exportable products to your countries.
The sugar Industry in Guyana was once the largest employer of agricultural workers. However, the livelihoods of over 7,000 Guyanese sugar workers were affected by the closure of four (4) sugar estates in the past five (5) years by the previous government. As a poverty alleviation measure, the PPP/C Government of Guyana has committed to investing in the sugar industry, reopening the closed sugar estates, bringing the industry to a break-even point, and creating many socio-economic benefits for the thousands of persons that will be re-employed.
Further, the Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana agrees with the FAO that the vision of the agricultural sector, as a generator of employment, must be expanded to involve related value-added sectors in food production, processing, rural services, and market access, and that these should be supported by policies that stimulate their growth through innovation and investment.
New Opportunities: Initiatives that will allow the agriculture sector to remain relevant in an oil-based economy
Guyana stands to benefit tremendously from the emerging oil sector. However, the availability of this revenue presents a challenge to the traditional agriculture sector, as it is likely to influence Guyana’s labour supply, wages and exchange rate, which could impact the competitiveness of the tradeable sectors such as rice and sugar in Guyana’s overall economy.
As a result, the Government of Guyana is working towards developing better functioning institutions, training the labour force, and diversifying the agriculture-based economy.
Changes in markets with greater access requirements, the accelerated pace of technological transformations, and demands for knowledge and management skills impose new challenges for our farming population. Technological change is one of the important challenges to be addressed if Guyana is to compete with technologically advanced nations, especially in our crops and livestock research initiatives in areas such as artificial insemination and genetic improvements. Further, technical cooperation would be welcomed as technological changes will serve as an engine of positive transformation for rural development.
In closing, the Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana supports the recommendations of this 36th Session of the Regional Conference and looks forward to continuing working with the FAO to develop sustainable rural communities that will help to achieve the SDGs, through policies that will, one day, eradicate hunger and extreme poverty.
- Agri. Minister pledges support for farming groups
- Critical drainage works to commence shortly
Farmers and residents from Belladrum, Mahaica-Berbice will soon benefit from a number of developmental initiatives, as Government works to implement critical programmes targeting all classes of Guyanese.
During a follow up visit by His Excellency, President Irfan Ali to the community, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha met with a number of residents and farmers to listen to some of their concerns. The most prominent issue was that of a lack of proper drainage and irrigation.
Trevor MacDonald, a resident of the Belladrum area said that for a number of years, the small internal drains in the community have been stagnant, and that it has become a health threat to the residents.
“We are having some water lodging that has now become stagnant. The drains need to be cleared. Right now there is a big back up of water and we are asking if something can be done urgently. If you can dig the drain and maybe, put a pipe leading out to the main canal so that the water can flow, it will bring instant relief to this issue. There are a lot of small children playing there and if you pass through there now you will see how green the water is, the smell and the amount of flies around those drains. Please, we are pleading with you to do something. We’ve been suffering for too long,” Mr. MacDonald said.
Minister Mustapha informed the residents that he has instructed officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to have their Regional engineer work with the Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC) to do an assessment of the drainage works that need to be carried out in the village.
“I’ve asked them to have the assessment completed within a week and I will send a machine to have the drains cleared,” Minister added.
Resident of Plantation/Foulis also took the opportunity to highlight some of the issues affecting them. Sivraj Bachah, a cattle farmer from the Plantation/Foulis area informed said that the farmers, themselves are tasked with digging and maintaining the drains in their area. He also said that there needs to be better security in the villages.
“I am one of the farmers who suffer from the lack of proper drainage here. When we dig it we still have to maintain it. Another issue is that of the need for street lights. We need some street lights. People are robbing and thieving in the village. There is also a lot of coconut and cattle thieving and I believe if we have the street lights and more police patrols, we wouldn’t have these issues. We never had anyone to help us or to listen to our plight, so Minister I am happy that you are here today to restore hope,” Mr. Bachah said.
In responding to the issues raised, Minister Mustapha said that he will engage his colleague Ministers so that some street lights can be installed in the village, as well as having an increased police prescience in the communities.
The subject Minister further stated that he plans to implement a number of developmental works in communities like Belladrum.
“I am happy to be here. Since I’ve taken over as Minister of Agriculture, I’ve embarked on a number of outreaches across the country to visit with farmers from various communities to see how I can assist persons to get into farming and develop their current level of production. Over the years the farming community and the agriculture sector have not been given the amount of resources needed. I intend to work with all classes of farmers to alleviate poverty and, over time, create wealth. The West Berbice area has a lot of potential when it comes to agriculture. As Minister, I will ensure every person who wants to get into agriculture has the necessary resources to do so,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also said that the Ministry has set aside funds to help farmers improve their production, taking into account the effects of climate change.
“In this year’s budget, we have allocated $15.8 M to purchase materials for shade-houses. Farmers from this village will benefit from that initiative. We know that the effects of climate change continue to impact our production. If we intend to restore or resuscitate agriculture in this community then you the farmers have to come on board with projects like this,” Minister Mustapha said.
Belladrum NDC Chairman, Emile Wilson also spoke about the lack of proper drainage, and how it is affecting rice cultivation in the area. Further, he addressed the need for a pasture in the area.
“The drains have not been maintained for a number of years. I am asking for a system to be put in place so that when the drains are cleaned, the necessary maintenance works can be carried out. Minister, rice and cattle are also a big issue in this area. We have a lot of cattle but no pasture. The officials can tell you how often they have to come and deal with breaches caused by cattle crossing these canals. I am asking for you to use your office to bring some sort of resolution to this. We, the rice farmers are in constant conflict with the cattle farmers because their cattle are always damaging our rice,” Mr. Wilson said.
Minister Mustapha committed to having the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) work with residents to identify an area suitable for the development of a pasture so that the cattle owners in the area can have a suitable place to graze their cattle.
He also encouraged residents to form themselves into groups so that they can work along with the Ministry’s agencies and other Regional officials to identify and come up with solutions to other issues faced. Minister Mustapha committed to returning to the village to assess the works that will be carried out within the coming weeks.