Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha has indicated that he is ready to apply his ‘hands-on’ approach to resuscitate this very vital sector.
While meeting with heads of agencies and other technical staff at the Ministry on Thursday, Minister Mustapha said that he is ready to work with his team of officers to ensure the sector makes a complete recovery, specifically highlighting the challenges facing the sugar industry.
“Within the last five years, we’ve seen extreme losses in the sugar industry. Four sugar estates were closed and over 7,500 persons were displaced. Thousands of other persons lost their livelihoods and the industry suffered damages that will take hard work and dedication to repair. I am confident that this government will bring back the sugar industry, a promise made in the People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP/C) manifesto,” Minister Mustapha said.
He also spoke about the current state of the Fisheries sector, specifically the loss of the catfish export market to the United States.
“It’s been three years since the United States placed a ban on catfish imports from Guyana. As a result, fishermen and exporters have suffered tremendously as finances from this once very lucrative market were lost,” Minster Mustapha said.
The newly appointed Minister also said that he plans to work to further develop the rice and livestock industries, improve drainage systems and access to farmlands, and find new market opportunities for agro-processors and cash crop farmers among others.
“Apart from what I’ve already mentioned, this Government will also be revisiting some of the harsh systems put in place by the previous administration such as the increase in land rates by the MMA/ADA,” Minister Mustapha said.
He is expected to have follow up meetings with the Heads of Agencies to discuss putting policies in place to address how the agriculture sector will move forward as the country and the rest of the world continue to deal with the COVID19 pandemic.
Minister Mustapha stated that he is eager to engage all stakeholders and private sector agencies to formulate policies to further strengthen the sector. Meetings will soon be held with executives from various farmers’ groups, the Guyana Agriculture Workers’ Union (GAWU) and the Water Users Association, just to name a few.
While addressing the Heads of Departments present, the Minister emphasized the fact that it is the responsibility of all Heads of Departments and agencies to work together as a unit to deliver the aims and objectives of the Ministry for the benefit of all Guyanese.