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; as part of MoA’s R.E.A.P

As the global COVID19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect many Guyanese, the Rural Affairs Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture recently launched its COVID19 Relief Kitchen Garden Initiative.

This initiative, which aims to provide a nutritional balance to families and a deterrence from toxic chemical use harming persons and the environment in a time when maintaining healthy immune systems is priority, is part of the Ministry’s Rural Entrepreneurial Agricultural Project (R.E.A.P).

Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for Rural Affairs, Honourable Valerie Adams-Yearwood while encouraging persons to start their kitchen gardens, said that the Ministry intends to assist persons with their efforts. 

“Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has implemented the R.E.A.P –  Rural Entrepreneurial Agricultural Project, which will be implemented in all Regions of Guyana. The Kitchen Garden Initiative, component two, will see persons receiving assistance to acquire small garden tools, seeds, irrigation and other planting material to get their kitchen gardens going,” Minister Adams-Yearwood said.

With the establishment of the Rural Affairs Secretariat in June 2019, the ministry was able to launch its first Kitchen Garden competition last November in Region Four, more specifically, the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara, in Region Five from Fort Wellington to Bush Lot, Region Six, from Number 53 Union to Kildonan, Region Nine, from Lethem to St. Ignatius and in Region Ten, Linden.

With the success of the previous initiative and preparations for the second leg of the competition underway, Minister Adams-Yearwood made adjustments to the initiative to offer assistance to persons finding it hard to maintain their food supply due to the challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic.

Minister Adams-Yearwood further stated that with many persons out of jobs, it may be difficult to feed their families with the necessary fruits and vegetables to maintain healthy immune systems.

“It is important for persons to have access to nutritious fruits and vegetables to maintain healthy immune systems, as these help your body to fight off diseases and viruses. This is one of the benefits of having a kitchen garden – access to a variety of healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables,” Minister Adams-Yearwood said.

She further stated kitchen gardens help persons to save money, reduce their trips to public spaces like markets and supermarkets and promote recreational activities between family members. 

Over the past few weeks, other Regional and Agricultural officials have been calling on persons to return to kitchen gardening as a means to ensure their families are fed, especially during crises like the one currently affecting the country.

Persons interested in this initiative can uplift an application form from the security of the Ministry’s head office on Regent Street, their Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC) Offices or regional agricultural officers. Forms are also available on the ministry’s website at http://agriculture.gov.gy/publications/kitchen-garden-project-entry-form/.

After a verification process, registered persons will be given assistance in the form of vouchers to acquire seeds, small garden tools, irrigation material and other planting materials needed to either establish or improve an established kitchen garden, redeemable at local or Regional suppliers. Closing date for registration is June 6th, 2020.  

The Ministry of Agriculture’s will be celebrating Guyana’s 50th Republic Anniversary with a return to a focus on each household being able to contribute to its food needs, through our Kitchen Garden Competition, launched on Friday November 29th, 2019 by Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture Valerie Yearwood.  This competition, while extending to various communities across Guyana, will pave the way for a truly national competition in the ensuing years, but will serve as the launchpad for this effort.

Continuing the tradition of the many firsts that the Rural Affairs Secretariat has achieved during its introduction in the Ministry, this competition follows on the heels of the ‘Agri-cursion’, ‘Agri-ability’, ‘Fam’ of Familiarization Tours to GuySuCo and collaboration by the Ministry of Agriculture with the Demerara Mahaica Health Department to launch the GRAIN-H project.

The Kitchen Garden Competition is intended to stimulate interest in this type of agricultural pursuit of cultivating kitchen gardens by homeowners and small scale gardeners, initially in the regions of 3.4. 5. 6. 9, and 10 respectively.

This effort is in keeping with the Government of Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), that is, the promotion of established kitchen gardens in every household, particularly in rural communities, which has proven to be one of the best methods of achieving these set goals.

The Hon. Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture Valerie Yearwood shared in her remarks at the launching that “to achieve  a goal, we need to want it, create  a plan, believe in it, set a time frame to achieve it and effectively implement it. We must first see the potential of having kitchen gardens in our homes. We must appreciate its benefits and contributions towards the development of our communities and economy altogether.”

She continued her remarks stating that “food is so much more than what is on our plates; it impacts our whole life, thus, it requires much emphasis, research and investment. Family farmers hold a unique potential to move towards more productive and sustainable food systems. For thousands of years, family farmers have been innovating, hence, investing in innovation and family farming is more crucial than ever in attempts to end hunger in our nation. “

“Food is what brings us together, yet not everyone has access to the food they need. Kitchen gardens give us the opportunity to have a healthy, more nutritious and balanced diet at a low-cost, to secure food all year round, and opens an avenue to earn money to sustain our families. It assists too to reduce the risk of many life threatening diseases and to promote good health and wellbeing. “

Minister Yearwood shared that the winners of this competition in each Regional focus area would receive prizes for those adjudged to place first to third, while the Regional winners would go head to head to compete for the overall prizes ranging from G$50, 000,increasing in increments of the same amount to the top prize of G$150, 000 in acknowledgement of our 50th Republic Anniversary celebrations.

“I am very pleased to support this initiative and would like to thank an avid gardener such as Dr. Allen, whose plot of land encourages a love of gardening and enjoyment of fresh, healthy foods, which are so vital to nourishing and maintaining physical health and wellbeing, Minister Yearwood remarked.  “I thank Dr. Allen too for opening his home and garden to us the public for this pivotal initiative. Hopefully, big things will grow in the years ahead.”

Establishing a kitchen garden is simple and there are many opportunities and technical support being offered to the public by the Ministry of Agriculture and its agencies. Please take advantage of the support at hand and together as a community let’s enhance and develop your street, community, region and country.

The competition will run from the 1st of December, 2019 to the 14th of February 2020, and eligible gardeners will be allowed to enter in three categories depending on the size of their gardens: they are small, medium and large scale. Explanations and rules of the competition are available on the Ministry’s website and persons who don’t have access to the internet can uplift forms at the Ministry and all agricultural agencies including NAREI stations, GLDA and NDIA offices in regions 3, 4, 5,6, 9 and 10.

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder delivers his address at the Hydromet Seminar earlier today

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder delivers his address at the Hydromet Seminar earlier today

Maya Angelou said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

This is the goal of capacity building initiatives undertaken through our various programmes and the anticipated outcome of this seminar: to improve the knowledge of participants on the critical issues that will be discussed during this seminar, that is, how we may, as individuals, as a sector and as societies, promote energy efficiency and alternative technologies in the cooling sector in keeping with our national commitments under the Montreal Protocol and our long-term development objectives.    This seminar will build on the many actions taking place nationally, regionally and globally to expose relevant stakeholders to information and practices to guide the development of policies, guide our choice of technologies and improve practices within the cooling sector with the aim of minimizing the sector’s long term carbon footprint on our planet.  

Like most countries, in Guyana the use of cooling technologies has become indispensable to our daily lives and economic activities.  Between 2016 and 2019 an estimated twenty percent increase in importation of cooling equipment was recorded. This trend is expected to continue along with the possibility of dramatic escalation in these numbers in the coming years resulting in a concomitant increase in the consumption of energy in this sector.  Cooling, although recognized as an important technology, is also one of the highest consumers of energy in Guyana. It is estimated that this sector accounts for approximately 17 percent of energy consumed worldwide.  Guyana continues to take steps to reduce our energy consumption in this sector through the promotion of energy efficient cooling technologies and practices.   Given the increasing demand for and use of cooling technologies in our current and emerging sectors, it is imperative that the technological, environmental and capacity deficiencies in this sector be addressed to ensure that growth in this sector does not undermine emission reductions and energy efficiency gains in other sectors.  

This seminar forms part of Guyana’s work and obligations in keeping with the Kigali Amendment for the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. We recognize the need for actions taken nationally through these programmes to be “needs focused and country driven”.    That is, proposed policies and actions should epitomize and be reflective of our national goals and long term development strategy. We believe that the areas to be discussed over the coming days are synonymous with our current development initiatives and will contribute to the construct of responsive policies and practices within this sector, even as we navigate this important juncture in our country’s history.   

We thank the United Nations Development Programme for their partnership in executing this activity.  Partnerships and collective efforts are necessary for the achievement of our common goals and shaping “our common future”.  Together, we achieve more. I wish you a successful seminar and fruitful discourse and trust that the discussions over the ensuing days will be a catalyst for actions to address the observed gaps within this sector and provide a platform on which future actions will be developed.

The Minister of Agriculture, Guyana, attended the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, the 20th Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), which was held at the Head Quarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) from October 29 to November 1, 2019 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Conference was declared open by the President of Costa Rica at a ceremony held in the National Auditorium of the Children’s Museum.

 

This biennial meeting is considered IICA’s most important meeting of Ministers of Agriculture of the western hemisphere.  The Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) comprises the Ministers of Agriculture of IICA’s member countries and is the Institute’s highest-level governing body. There were 28 Ministers of Agriculture in attendance including 13 from Cariforum countries. However, 33 countries were represented out of the 34 member states. 

 

Main Topics Reviewed 

The report, “The Outlook for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Americas: A Perspective on Latin America and the Caribbean” was accepted by the conference as a useful tool for the tasks of analysis and policy making.  

 

The WTO agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures  

In considering the matter of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), the Board considered that IICA Member States in the Americas continue to face the challenge of producing food in a safer and sustainable way, and that farmers must be able to access the full range of tools and technologies available for agricultural production. It was also observed that farmers’ access to agricultural tools and technologies are increasingly limited by non-tariff measures in the target markets, which lack sufficient technical and scientific justification, and therefore have considerable negative impact on the production, productivity and trade in safe food and agricultural products. The meeting, therefore, resolved:

 

  1. To affirm the importance of the work undertaken by the WTO SPS Committee to examine pesticide-related issues that have an adverse impact on international trade in food and agricultural products. 

 

  1. To achieve consensus in the Western Hemisphere on collaborative actions to address pesticide-related issues that impact agricultural trade including from developing countries, for example, through the promotion of collaboration in the generation of necessary data for setting trade-facilitative and regionally relevant MRLs, especially for specialty crops.

 

  1. To affirm the importance of risk analysis in assessing, managing and communicating risks of concern associated with pesticide use in order to protect public health while enabling the safe use of pesticides and facilitating trade in food and agricultural products.  

 

  1. To commit to improving transparency and predictability in the setting of national MRLs

   

  1. To strengthen the implementation of the SPS Agreement by working collectively to enhance shared understanding of the provisions, including scientific justification, as they pertain to MRLs.
  2. To affirm the importance of the Codex Alimentarius Commission as the relevant international standard-setting body for pesticide MRLs and to actively enable and facilitate regional participation in the work of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues and Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticides Residues.

 

  1. To apply the same principles stated above to other issues associated with RLs, such as heavy metals.

 

Panel Discussions

Under the theme of the Conference – Cultivating Tomorrow’s Agriculture Today – a report on “Agriculture and Rurality in a Future of Permanent Change” also received in depth consideration by delegates. The Ministers considered the following three contextual elements:

 

  • The changes that are reshaping the world suggest that, in coming decades, “business as usual” will no longer be a viable option, and agriculture will be at the epicenter of many of the changes. 
  • In recent decades, bioeconomy approaches have become established as the basis for a cycle of continuous, positive development that preserves and improves natural capital, while at the same time optimizing resource yields and utilization, and functioning effectively at every scale. 
  • The world of the future calls for a repositioning of agriculture and the rural milieu, opens up major opportunities for the Americas, and means that the nature of development strategies, and the way in which they are defined and implemented, have to be rethought.

 

Based on these parameters, three Panels of Ministers were established to focus on the following:

  • Opportunities for rural inclusion in the digital era
  • Toward a new balance between productivity and sustainability, and
  • Health, safety and quality for the future of trade

 

Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture was invited to be a Panelist and to address the conference on “Toward a new balance between productivity and sustainability”.

 

Other Matters 

The “Strategic Proposal for the Future of CATIE (the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE)), which is essentially the research and training component of IICA, was also considered and a special committee was established to study, analyse and make recommendations to the next Regular Meeting of the Executive Committee within a six month period.

 

Other statutory matters regarding the Minutes of the Executive Committee, approval of financial and programme budgetary allocations, report on the collection of quotas, 2017 and 2018 Financial Statements and reports of the external auditors of IICA, date and venue of the 20th Regular Meeting of IABA, etc. also received due attention of the Board.

 

It is noteworthy that Guyana was appointed as a member of the Executive Committee of IICA, which is responsible for managing the affairs of the organisation over the next two years until the next (21st) meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture.

 

Minister of Agriculture addressing the Conference of the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas

Minister of Agriculture addressing the Conference of the Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas

On Monday, November 4, twelve excavators will be dispatched in the High Dam area in Region 5, Mahaica-Berbice, to begin dredging of the Bellamy Canal and constructing a higher dam. This is being done to alleviate possible and future flooding in the area.

Earlier on Friday, Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Fredrick Flatts, told the Department of Public Information (DPI), at the moment this would be the best solution to the problem at hand.

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Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, with responsibility for Rural Affairs, Hon. Valerie Adams-Yearwood bring greeted by residents Annette Balgobin and Zabida Bacchus after receiving their food hampers.

That problem being flooding in some parts of the Mahaica-Berbice Region due to unusually high tides.

“We plan to build a secondary dam between Fairfield and Dantzig. The secondary would be very high, about 8 feet high above the land and about 12 feet top width, it’s a significant dam. That dam will start at the sea defence to cross the Bellamy Canal coming about 800 feet into the land, then go parallel to the sea defence and come back in at Fairfield,” Flatts explained.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Fredrick Flatts

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Fredrick Flatts

The NDIA CEO revisited the region, on Friday, with Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, with responsibility for Rural Affairs, Hon. Valerie Adams-Yearwood, who delivered food hampers to residents at High Dam, Rebecca’s Lust and Glaziers Lust. The team also spoke with members of the community about the current situation, and possible ways to deal with it.

Minister Adams-Yearwood expressed satisfaction with the NDIA’s solution, which also got the support of the residents.

“Your government is very concerned about your current situation… Hearing the plan by Mr. Flatts, we expect that with the spring tide in November, we would not see a repeat of what we saw this season here,” Minister Adams-Yearwood noted.

Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Raphael Trotman speaking with resident Lloyd Alphonso

Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Raphael Trotman speaking with resident Lloyd Alphonso

Later on, Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Raphael Trotman, joined the exercise, meeting with residents and assuring them that government was working to ensure these events, though acts of nature, does not affect them this severely again.

“We are trying to tabulate how much has been lost and to see how best the government can replace. What we are seeing here is mother nature demonstrating that she is in charge, but governments do have a responsibility to take care of its people… We are responding to a situation of need,” Minister Trotman told DPI.

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Councilor Cleveland Ramsammy assisting resident Annette Balgobin with her food hamper

The Civil Defense Commission (CDC) throughout this week, including Friday, has been continuously distributing clean drinking water and cleaning agents to the affected families.

Forty-three families were given food hampers to last more than one week, along with cleaning agents to aide in the cleanup efforts.

(DPI)

Honourable Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder gives his address

Honourable Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder gives his address

The plaque unveiled to commemorate the commissioning

The plaque unveiled to commemorate the commissioning

Ladies and Gentlemen, very often in the national conversation on water resources and water resources management Guyana’s Hydrometeorological Service (Hydromet) is hardly mentioned. But as far as the law is concerned, Hydromet is essentially the custodian of all of Guyana’s waters.

The Hydrometeorological Service’s mandate is defined in the Water and Sewerage Act (2002). The ownership of the country’s water is vested in the State and the Hydrometeorological Service has been given the responsibility to manage this resource for the State. Therefore, no person or entity, above a certain threshold, can use, abstract, manage or control the flow of water without being licensed to do so by the Hydrometeorological Service.

While nationally, the Hydromet is viewed as our national weather service, which it is, the first function of the Department, as given in the Water Sewerage Act, is to “establish, manage, and operate national systems, to monitor the availability, quality and use of surface and ground water.” The Department is also mandated to “assess and record the impact of water use on the quantity and quality of surface and groundwater” while providing stakeholders “information on the composition of the ….quantity and quality of surface and ground water…”Further, Hydromet is mandated under the law to “ensure that existing sources of ground water and surface water are conserved and used sustainably.”

Therefore, Ladies and gentlemen, today marks an important milestone for the Hydrometeorological Service with respect to the department fulfilling its mandate with regard to water resources management, but specifically with regard to the monitoring of the quality of the country’s water resources. Today marks the beginning of the thrust towards establishing a national water quality monitoring network and the establishment of a central repository for all information on the quality of the country’s resources.

Currently, there exists no comprehensive database on the quality of the country’s water resources. Some entities may have data with respect to their specific interests, but Hydromet’s role is to serve the national interest and,therefore, there are no limits to the boundaries to which the work of Hydromet should extend in this regard. The Service is mandated to establish systems for the monitoring of all of Guyana’s water resources and, therefore, wherever there is water in Guyana, Hydromet must be able to provide data and information on its current quality, and projections on how this might change, given current and planned development.

In Guyana, the majority of our people, that is, 98.3%, are benefitting from improved drinking water quality. However, only 4.2% of the national water withdrawal is to meet domestic needs and 1.4% is for industrial purposes. The largest use of freshwater in Guyana is for agricultural production, which accounts for 94.1%.  of our total water withdrawal. Farms discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into water bodies. The resultant water pollution alters the quality of our surface and ground water and poses significant risks to aquatic ecosystems, human health and productive activities.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), acknowledges the importance of water quality and includes a specific water quality target, SDG Target 6.3: “By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”. The response to water quality degradation includes, research, policies, technologies, and implementing good practices. However, strong data systems are required to understand the issues, its geographical extent, and what plans andprogrammes are required to address these.  Once again, this water quality laboratory is being strategically established to fill this critical gap.

If we are to design measures for preventing pollution and mitigating risks, we need to know the state of aquatic ecosystems, and the impacts of such degradation on human health and the environment. Therefore, this laboratory will aid in the management of our water ways via diagnosis and the monitoring of harmful water quality impacts.

As we are all aware, Guyana has three main aquifers: the ‘Upper Sands’, the ‘A Sands’ and the ‘B Sands’. Guyana’s coastal aquifers cover an area of approximately 18,000 km2 with a recharge area of approximately 13,000 km2receiving an annual rainfall recharge of 2,500 mm. The Upper Sands aquifer was first drilled in 1781, but was abandoned in 1913 due to high salinity levels possibly as a result of over abstraction and its connection to the Atlantic Ocean (Mercado, 1997). In 1913, the ‘A Sands’ were drilled and by 1956 there were more than 200 active wells with a yield of approximately 2,600 m3 per day. Today, this aquifer continues to be the main source of groundwater along the coast and in 2013 the yield per day was estimated at almost 350,000 m3. Because of the coastal clays, our aquifers are recharged primarily by rainfall in the recharge area and not through our rivers (the coastal clays restrict the movement of water from the rivers into the aquifers). This, along with the high abstraction rates, has resulted in falling water levels in our coastal aquifers. The US Army Topographic Center (1998) reported that ground water levels were about 4.5 m above ground level (agl) in 1913 when the ‘A Sands’ were first drilled to 14 m below ground level (bgl) in 1993. Today, in Georgetown, it is reported that groundwater levels are now more than 35 m below ground level. The current situation is clearly unsustainable and there has to be a national discussion that leads to policies that allows us to effectively manage our groundwater resources and water resources in general. If we fail to take immediate and concrete actions to address this situation, we will be condemned by future generations.

Ladies and gentlemen, the cost of the laboratory is approximately G$ 83 million. The Hydromet Service will be the primary user of the facility for regulatory sampling and analysis for water (surface and ground) and wastewater. However, the lab is open to all to test for water quality. There are several parameters that will be tested at the lab including biological, chemical and physical parameters. In its initial stages, the lab will commence with testing basic parameters such as pH, temperature, salinity, phosphorous, and nitrogen ammonia. Over time these parameters will increase to include the full suite of parameters to represent our national context. The Laboratory will use the World Health Organization’s global standards for ‘Drinking Water Quality’ and ‘Safe Use of Wastewater’ as the basis for determining our water quality. Once commissioned, the Hydromet Service will commence work with local partners and specifically the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) towards certification and, thereafter, accreditation. This will ensure that the results and reports coming out of the facility is of the highest standard and integrity, which would be capable of withstanding scrutiny.

In closing, I believe that the establishment of a national water quality laboratory is a key step towards the achievement of several international, regional and national commitments, especially the Sustainable Development Goals, Green State Development Strategy and the Food Safety Policy. I express my gratitude to the CHO and team for their time and expertise in the process to get us here today and urge them to continue to press on in this particular mandate of Hydromet. It is my honour to commission this Water Quality Laboratory here at Brickdam. The Government of Guyana (GoG) through the Ministry of Agriculture remains committed to waterresources management in all its facets, especially for improving human life and wellbeing, by providing access to water of the highest quality for all of the intended purposes and uses.

NLH

Chair, H.E. David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Fellow Ministers and Parliamentarians, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Regional Chair of East Berbice Corentyne, Regional Officials, Staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers and residents of Region 6, Special Invitees, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our 5thNational Tree Day.

It is my distinct honour and pleasure to be here and to participate in this National Tree Day Exercise in Region 6. This initiativecommenced in 2015 and every year I look forward to this day as the planting of trees is essential for the survival of our ecosystemin general and more particularly our very existence on planet Earth. Ladies and Gentlemen, as you are aware, the Government of Guyana has decided, as a policy initiative, to promote the development of a Green Economy. This is evident from our recently launched Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) Vision 2040. One of the specific activities we engaged in every Agriculture Month isNational Tree Day where we encourage every Guyanese, regardless of your location, to plant trees. This year we celebrate the theme Sustainable Agriculture for Ensuring Food Safety in a Green Economy,” and indeed, an Ancient Chinese  Proverb proclaims that “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.

It is an important responsibility for us to take care of our environment and trees are one of the most important aspects of a healthy environment. Trees are an important resource in our natural ecosystem with several benefits; trees play several roles in our lives. Trees are a natural habitat for all wildlife. Trees act as a reservoir for genetic resources and bio-diversity. Trees provide us with food and oxygen. Trees prevent soil erosion and maintain the water cycle. Trees prevent global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and even cool our environment – our sidewalks and outdoor recreational areas.

The forest cover about 30% of our planet. In Guyana, the forest cover is 87.79 % (18.4 million hectares), one of the highestproportions of forest cover in the world. Additionally with a minimal deforestation rate of 0.05% Guyana stands out, at a time when widespread destruction of forests and other woodlands is on a steady increase. Our stewardship of our forest is a success that we as Guyanese must take pleasure to upkeep.  

Therefore, our National Tree Day is not only about planting trees but to respect standing trees and avoid deforestation.

On a global level agriculture and forestry accounts for 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions making deforestation a significant contributor to climate change. Trees help to regulate the world’s climate. Over the last few months, the World haswitnessed raging forest fires in the Amazon Basin, which will increase the rate and severity of global warming. However, deforestation is reversible, by managing forestry resources, and planting new treesreplacing those removed are good steps to reduce deforestation and it its negative environmental impact on our planet.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must ACT NOWto prepare ourselves and deal with the basic causes of global warming. Today we are doing our part and challenging others to follow. While this initiative may appear insignificant to some, we must persevere and continue to underscore the importance of planting and replanting trees. Imagine if 20,000 Guyanese were to plant 1 tree per month – at the end of the year, this would translate to 240,000 additional trees to our pristine forest reserve. As recent as 2018, China reassigned 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to fight pollution, that translated to at least 84,000 square kilometres (32,400 square miles) of trees by the end of that year. Therefore, I urge parents to teach their children and explain the importance of trees while encouragingthem to plant trees. Get the children to plant trees along the streets in our communities. This would also contribute to peaceful and harmonious communities as well as their beautification.  

I recognize that efforts are being put in place to protect our environment. At the global level, emphasis is being placed on development projects that are supportive of global and regional environmental conventions on climate change; protocols on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer and protection of the Ozone Layer.

At the national level, our agriculture policy for ‘Hinterland Development’ discourages the clearing of forested land for agricultural purposes, we have identified two distinct areas of savannah land for agricultural expansion; the Intermediate Savannahs of Region 10 (approximately 292,000 ha), and the South East Rupununi Savannahs of Region 9 (some 1.3 million ha). All in keeping with establishing a ‘Green Economy.’ Moreso, the Government encourages reforestation through theGuyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Land Reclamation Project and inter alia, the continued observation of National Tree Day each year among other efforts.

The tree is a symbol for us. It reminds us of nature and the importance of climate and environmental protection. Today’s occasion should not be seen as the end of such an important activity, but rather as a start and a way of reminding us to be more conscious of the need to protect our environment.

As we plant these trees today let us consider them as a symbol of our solidarity in our quest to attain a green economy as we will grow together with our trees towards a cohesive and better future.

NLH

11 October 2019

Noel Holder

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder

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