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Irrigation is an important pre-requite to agricultural development in the Rupununi and intermediate savannahs as the Ministry of Agriculture advances the cause of moving the country’s agricultural base away from the coast.
Today, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Country Representative, Mr. Wilmot Garnett, handed over the Rupununi survey working document named, “The effects of El Nino in the Rupununi (Region 9)- Guyana”. The IICA has assisted the Ministry in having the working document completed.
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Noel Holder, lauded the institute for its continued support, which has over the years significantly assisted Guyana’s agricultural needs. He added that the document, which was much needed, remains imperative for better understanding the impact of the El Niño phenomenon and to improve preparation and response to such disasters.
” The survey is an assessment to determine the positives and negative impacts of the El Nino on agriculture and other socio-economic parameters of the Region. Restoration and resilience will require a number of short, medium and long-term interventions and the document will significantly assist us in this regard,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, IICA’s Country Representative in an invited comment noted that while the el Niño episodes had resulted in water shortages countrywide, Rupununi was hard-hit, hence IICA’s decision to assist.
“Though the el Niño was expected, the lack of data and an evaluation of the previous episodes hampered preparations to alleviate its impacts. Since Guyana is likely to experience an el Niño every so often, it is important for the country to garner an understanding of the impacts and use the information to guide future plans,” Mr. Garnett said.
The survey looks at the effect the drought-like condition has on the region’s socio-economic situation, water deficit, health, education, food security, trade among others.
This move augurs well for the future of Agriculture in Region 9 and the Ministry’s vision of reducing the risk of climate-related disasters through a holistic, evidence-based approach. The document presents specific findings for the Rupununi and includes lessons and recommendations for addressing future el Niño events in the region.
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Healthy diets can be achieved only if healthy foods are produced by adopting healthy and sustainable food systems, these were the sentiments expressed by Agriculture Minister, Hon. Noel Holder who was at the time addressing a gathering at the United Nation’s Symposium in Rome.
The Minister called for world leaders to better adapt to climate change, by understanding the impacts it has on food security.
“To achieve the goal of the United Nations on Nutrition, stakeholders need to urgently take concrete evidence based actions to situations….policy, investment and behavior shifts are much needed along the food chain,” the Minister said.
FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da SIlva meeting with T.H. Noel Holder, Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Guyana, FAO headquarters.
The United Nations Decade on Nutrition which will run from 2016 to 2025 provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders to strengthen joint efforts towards eradicating hunger and preventing all forms of malnutrition worldwide.
According to Minister Holder, nutrition continues to be a central health, economic and sustainable development challenge for every region and if executed thoughtfully, the potential to propagate a society-wide movement, leading to national policy change and ultimately to the end of all forms of malnutrition, can be realized.
The role of women in the food system remains a critical aspect, and according to the Agriculture Minister, if there is to be a national policy change equitable opportunities to earn and learn should be compatible with healthy and safe pregnancies and child feeding.
“nutrition challenges faced by Member States are complex, and their solutions require strong and sustained political leadership….consumers should also be empowered with improved nutrition information that influences their food choices, Holder said.
The United Nations Decade on Nutrition calls all Member States to act across six pillars for nutrition action based on the commitments of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition which are:-
- Sustainable food systems for healthy diets
- Aligned health systems providing universal coverage of essential nutrition actions
- Social protection and nutrition education
- Trade and investment for improved nutrition
- Enabling food and breastfeeding environments and
- Review, strengthen and promote nutrition governance and accountability
As Guyana strives to consolidate national food security, the Ministry of Agriculture has also begun preparation of its submission of a proposal for Grant funding from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) to the tune of $US10 Million.
Once successful, the project will seek to increase rural agriculture output and secure exports of non-traditional agricultural products.
During the 2 day symposium, the Minister was accompanied by Dr. Deep Ford, Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Organs in Geneva and Dr. Mark Pierre, Agricultural Health and Food Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture.