My fellow Guyanese, World Food Day is a global platform for us to raise awareness about issues of hunger and poverty.
On this World Food Day, which marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), I would like to express our Government’s gratitude to FAO for the work that they are doing, not only in Guyana but in the Caribbean and around the world.
Today as we observe World Food Day under the theme “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our future.” This theme is especially important as it promotes partnership for cooperation to grow, feed, and secure our future in a cohesive way. Let us, therefore, join together to remain focused and commit to increasing investments in food and nutrition security, among other things, for the development of sustainable agriculture and our future.
To achieve this sustainable future which we all foresee, it is my belief that while our work in the office is important, there is a strong need for us to be in the fields, constantly engaging our farmers and food producers. Therefore, our actions must be to support farmers in their fields throughout the year. My initial engagements with farmers and other stakeholders and assessment of the sector show that the issues which subsist today have been around for quite some time. In this regard, I found the ‘Jagdeo Initiative’, which was crafted in 2002, to be valuable in resolving these issues
To expand our supply capacity and improve competitiveness, Government will increase investments in farm to market access roads, and drainage and irrigation infrastructure.
This will extend to the upgrading of research and development programmes, with the requisite infrastructures such as modernized laboratories. We will engage with educational institutions to ensure the necessary human resource skillset is mobilized in the sector for advancement.
Much of the investment in food security is, and will continue to be, from private farmers, traders, agri-businesses, and others engaged in the production and distribution of food. However, they remain largely fragmented.
As a measure to “address the fragmented and unorganized farming private sector”, Government will engage in Farmers’ Registration. This will aid in the delivery of better services to farmers. It will also help farmers to access incentives and other benefits offered by Government. By having a farmers’ registration, our Ministry will be able to establish and operate a database-driven system with basic information about the farm and agriculture stakeholders. This will inform policymaking and programme planning, and implementation.
Investments made in the agriculture sector must be strongly supported if we are to overcome the challenges faced. Two such challenges that we have heard at every farmers’ outreach over the past two months, is that of land and water. Government will continue to invest, as was evident in Budget 2020, to promote and provide the enabling infrastructure and facilities for development of land and water management.
Since taking office as Minister, I am pleased with the partnership support, that is, both technical and financial support, from the FAO, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank, as well as several bilateral agencies.
I know that in FAO’s journey to help Guyana achieve its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, there will be many challenges and issues, but we will stand hand in hand with you and work tirelessly to ensure that we achieve the targets set out. At times, these targets would seem elusive due to many external factors and emergencies, take for example COVID-19, but with our strong cohesive partnership, we will stay focused and dedicated with a sustained resolve to ensure that we overcome the difficulties together as they arise.
We, the Ministry of Agriculture offer our full support to the vision and actions that lie ahead to “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.” as Our Actions are our future”.
Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P.
Minister of Agriculture