Regional collaboration for sustainable and climate resilient agriculture among topics discussed during XXXVI FAO Regional Conference.

Today, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha participated in the 36th Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Regional Conference.

The three-day virtual conference is the organization’s official forum where ministers of agriculture and high officials of Member States from the same geographic region, meet to elaborate, beyond the borders of the individual countries, on challenges and priority matters related to food and agriculture, with a view of promoting regional coherence on global policies and political issues.

During his first presentation which focused on ‘hand in hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies’, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said that countries must work together, towards ensuring that there are sustainable agriculture policies and measures that contribute to poverty reduction in our rural communities.

“Improving farmers’ livelihoods in rural areas and diversifying the rural economies through the enhanced competitiveness of the agriculture sector is a priority of the Ministry of Agriculture.   This requires working assiduously with the Public Sector, Private Sector, and International Organizations to implement programmes that will increase agricultural productivity and income of farmers. Not forgetting, south-south cooperation and integration, as an essential tool for strengthening alliances in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Minister Mustapha said.

He further stated that in order to make informed policy decisions for prosperous and inclusive rural communities, improving agricultural and rural statistics is a priority of the Government of Guyana.

“The Ministry of Agriculture of Guyana is therefore committed to working with the FAO to prepare a Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics. The FAO’s support to the Ministry of Agriculture to prepare a National Strategy integrating the SDGs in its National Agricultural Planning will aid the promotion of working Hand-in-Hand towards prosperous and inclusive rural societies in Guyana,” Minister Mustapha said.

During his presentation on ‘sustainable and climate resilient agriculture’, Minister Mustapha said that with increased investments in crops with low carbon footprints sectors, such as fruits and vegetables and aquaculture, Guyana envisions a transformation of the food system to include innovation and initiatives that drive changes at each stage of the production chain.

“Some of the sustainable climate-resilient productive agriculture systems, being undertaken in Guyana include, crop diversification to adjust to the new temperature and precipitation patterns, changing livestock breeding practices and shifting grazing patterns, developing and managing climate-resilient food production systems, developing and using drought and flood-tolerant crop varieties and adopting water and soil moisture conservation measures,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister went on to mention that Guyana has long been classified as a high risk flood country and there is the risk of greater frequency and intensity, with the greatest vulnerability experienced within the coastal zone.

“The coastal area accounts for around 90% of the country’s population, this is the same area with most of the agricultural activities. Farmers who face increasing exposure to disaster can find themselves trapped in a cycle of food insecurity and poverty. Therefore, the high risk of climate related disaster in our agriculture activities requires enhanced mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation strategies,” Minister Mustapha said.

Being the highest governing body of the Organization at Regional level, Regional conferences are essential for ensuring the effectiveness of the FAO regional work in the service of Member States but also in the definition of its priority areas of work for the following biennium.

Ministers of Agriculture from the regions actively take part in the Conference, with representatives of regional, intra-regional and international organizations, civil society and the private sector being welcome as observers to the sessions of the conferences.

Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Madanlall Ramraj, is expected to make a presentation on behalf of the Ministry during day three of the conference.