Noting the challenges faced with restructuring Guyana’s sugar industry and getting it to a profitable state, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday last met with the newly appointed members of the National Cane Farmers’ Committee Board of Directors to discuss their role in government’s plans for the industry.
During the meeting, Minister Mustapha urged the Board to align their programmes for the expansion and development of the industry to the policies outlined in government’s 2020-2025 manifesto.
“We were voted into office by the people of this country based on the manifesto that was put forward. Those manifesto promises now act as the framework for developing government’s policies. One of those promises was to open the closed sugar estates and bring the sector to profitability. We’ve started already and, as a result, a number of cane farming committees have signaled their readiness to come back on stream. I’ve had meetings with the Upper Corentyne Cane Farming Committee, as well as cane farming committees from Bloomfield and Letter Kenny. I hope this Board can play a major role is helping to resuscitate all those dormant cane farming committees across the country. A number of those committees need to have elections and have their leases renewed and I hope this Board will give the kind of leadership necessary to have these committees functional,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also informed the Board Members about Government’s intention to develop a Public/ Private partnership for the industry.
“With the plans we have for the sector and where we hope to take it, we are cognizant of the fact that government alone cannot fund the industry. Since taking office, government has injected $7B into the sugar industry. Those funds were and will be used for the reopening of the estates that were closed, as well as the recapitalization of the estates presently operating. This will also result in private cane farmers having a lot of opportunities to resuscitate their farms and you will have to be at the forefront in leading the process to ensure we incorporate them into the activities of GuySuCo. Furthermore, as you should be aware, one of the main functions of the Board is the control, administration and recoup money from farmers under the Cane Farmers Special Fund Act. Government is also looking at the small business initiative and this Board can make representation for farmers to have access to small loans to invest in their farms. Last year we had $100 M in that fund from the budget and hopefully in the new budget, we can have more funds so that cane farmers can tap into those resources,” Minister Mustapha said.
Newly appointed Chairman of the Board, Mr. Roy Hanoman Singh said that he was pleased to learn that the Ministry will be making representation for small cane farmers to access loans and grants from government funded initiatives.
“I didn’t know this but I’m happy to hear it. I’m sure that this is something being introduced by this administration and I applaud you for extending these resources to the nation’s cane farming community. Our loan fund is a small amount, which is not adequate to help all for our farmers so I want to thank government for that,” Mr. Singh said.
Members of the Cane Farmers Committee Board include Roy Hanoman Singh (Chairman), Ravindra Punwa, Prakash Singh, Suresh Amichand, George Jervis, Lall Piterahdaun, Permdat Becchand, Pawan Persaud, Gavin Ramnarine, Christopher Vandeyar, Pradeep Chanda, Premraj Ramraj, Derrick Venture, Sam Persaud Naik, Arine Mc Lean, Seepaul Narine and Rabindranauth Prashad.