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The Indigenous Village of Rupertee, located in the Annai Sub-District, Region Nine will soon benefit from a number of government incentives to boost the village’s economy and agriculture output.

During an outreach to the several villages in the North Rupununi District on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha met with representatives of the village to discuss government’s plans for agricultural development in the Region.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while addressing the gathering

As part of a packed two-day outreach exercise, Minister Mustapha visited the village’s Black Giant Poultry Project site.

Senior Village Council, Surish Andries said that with the current facility in place, the project has the ability to expand and further improve the village’s ability to supply poultry to other villages in the Region.

“The building is currently underutilized. We want to be able to fully utilize this facility. That is our target. We’ve had a few challenges with attacks from the wildlife where animals would come in the pen. This species of bird is very new to us and its serving as a learning experience for us. GLDA has an officer here who is really helping us with the records and so. We also need an incubator. A small one to assist with our production,” Mr. Andries said.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while distributing the items to villagers

After visiting the facility, Minister Mustapha also meet with several villagers to listen to some of their requests to improve agriculture.

During his engagement, Minister Mustapha disclosed that an additional three million dollars will be spent to develop agriculture in Rupertee.

“We’ll construct fences to enhance your cattle rearing. We’ll construct a well so that you can benefit from a potable water supply. And finally, we’ll build a house, a ‘kapetash’. Your community will be enhanced. We’ll also be working with you to develop your livestock industry with pasture development and access to improved breeds through artificial insemination and breeding bulls. Soon, we’ll be making more donations to all of the villages in Region Nine. Each village in Region Nine will experience some form of development from the Ministry of Agriculture this year because I believe the same benefits farmers on the Coast are receiving, farmers in this Region should benefit from as well,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister also told the villagers that with the Ministry working to develop the non-traditional crops sector, areas like Rupertee and other villages in Region Nine will have to play a major role given the vast amounts of land available.

A villager while making a comment at the meeting

“Although we are investing in our traditional crops, we are also promoting the cultivation of non-traditional and high-income earning crops. Areas like Rupertee in Region Nine will be important areas for us because we recognize, over the years, we’ve been importing millions of dollars in corn for the poultry industry. We have the ability to satisfy the local markets and government has been putting the necessary systems in place to bring Guyana to a place where it can start producing these crops on a large scale,” Minister Mustapha said.

Villagers who attended the meeting also told the Minister and his team that there were a number of projects that needed government’s input to further enhance agriculture in the village.

Mr. Andries also told the Minister that the village needed a tractor fitted with a plough as many farmers need assistance with land preparation for their farms and pastures.

Another villager spoke about the need for an inland fisheries policy to develop the sector, as well as a proper management system for tractors in the Region.

“There’s no inland fisheries policy in Guyana. It’s in draft and I know this because I took part in that process to create the document. I would like for this Government to recommence the process to regularize this and make it a reality. We have policies for the other fishing but nothing for inland fisheries. I’ve been speaking with the Chief Fisheries Officer on this as well. The only document we have is the Arapaima Management Plan and it is still being breached because the law says that we should not trouble it but people still do. Another thing Mr. Minister is transportation. You heard the Senior Council say that our tractor is down. This is the case for several villages. I’m happy that you said the government will be giving tractors to several villages but there needs to be a proper management system in place,” the villager said.

Some of the Black Giant Birds currently at the facility in Rupertee

While responding to those comments, Minister Mustapha told the villagers that the three tractors fitted with ploughs will be procured for the Region this year by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and one of those machines will be stationed in Annai so that villagers from Rupertee will have access to it. As it relates to the need for an inland fisheries policy, the subject Minister said that the Fisheries Department is currently working to have systems in place to regularize inland fisheries. He also said that with government moving apace with its aquaculture master plan, policies regarding all areas of fisheries will be crafted and implemented in the coming months.

Minister Mustapha also told the villagers that he has instructed NDIA’s Regional officer to develop a management system for machines assigned to the Region and to have persons from the villages who are operating the machines trained to carry out basic repairs should the need arise. This, he said, will cut back on downtime and ensure works are carried out promptly.

After the meeting, Minister Mustapha distributed several farm tools, Acoushi Ants bait, fertilizers, chemicals, and seeds to be used by villagers for agricultural development.

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