Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha says the Government plans to channel immense effort towards expanding the coconut industry as it anticipates satisfactory foreign exchange.
The Minister made this assertion on Thursday, during his visit to the William Adams Coconut Farm, at Dalgin, Soesdyke-Linden Highway.
“I mentioned in my budget presentation that we will develop the sector by intercropping, and here we are practically looking at intercropping and how it is done. That is why I am making it my duty to have this practice all across Guyana for all to benefit,” the Minister said.
Guyana has already received an invitation from Malaysia to join the International Coconut Community, and Minister Mustapha plans to ensure that Guyana is represented soonest.
Minister Mustapha also encouraged farmers to incorporate new techniques to increase their yields.
With the many measures implemented by the Government for farmers in the 2020 budget, the Minister is confident that they would be able to boost production.
“The land rental fee, we have reduced from $15,000 back to $2000 and $1000. We have removed the drainage and irrigation charges from $8,000 to $2,500; the VAT from agriculture supplies and inputs; equipment like spray cans that farmers will need do not require paying VAT. That is the kind of policy that you should have in a country to enable farmers to produce; give them the facilities and also provide a similar environment, where the Government’s policy is friendly to all,” the Minister said.
Minister Mustapha said agriculture is the backbone of Guyana’s economy and he has endeavoured to work to transform the sector “because it is here to stay”.
Further, he said, people need to abolish the perception that agriculture is a menial job and increase their appreciation for the value it has brought to the nation’s GDP over the years.
The Adams farm, owned by Mr. William Adams, a re-migrant from the USA, has approximately 20 acres of land cultivated with coconut varieties for water. The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), along with other stakeholders, have been working with Mr. Adams to pilot and demonstrate various forms of intercropping.