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 – Minister Mustapha tells villagers Ministry is working to tackle issues with markets in the Hinterland

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha announced that his Ministry will be expending $3 million in 2021 to commence the cultivation of corn and soya bean in Moco Moco Village, North Rupununi.

During a recent two-day outreach to Region Nine, Minister Mustapha hosted several meetings with farmers from several villages to listen to some of the issues faced in the agriculture sector in the Region.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

During his meeting with villagers from Moco Moco, Minister Mustapha told the gathering that a number of transformative projects will be rolled out in the Region over the next few months. He also told villagers that his Ministry will be making the necessary resources available to commence corn and soya bean cultivation in the coming months.

“We’ve earmarked three acres each for the cultivation of corn and soya bean in the village. Our extension officers will come and have discussions with the Village Council shortly to determine where to start the production. This initiative will benefit your community tremendously. Over time we will increase the production and ensure you have the necessary support to sustain these crops,” Minister Mustapha said.

Toshao for Moco Moco, Mark George said that the village needed heavy-duty equipment if they were to venture into large-scale agriculture. He also said farmers were willing to increase their cultivation but sighted a lack of markets as a hindrance.

A section of the gathering

“Minister our biggest challenge here is markets. We can do so much more than we are doing now. For example, we have peanuts in people’s homes with no markets. We also need a tractor with a plough. We are grateful for the basic garden tools but we also need big tools so that we can do our cultivation in a smarter way and on a larger scale,” Mr. George said.

Responding to those requests, Minister Mustapha told the villagers that several tractors were being procured for the Region under the Ministry’s 2021 Capital programme.

“Your village leader also spoke about the tractor and plough. I want to assure you that, this year in our program, we will be purchasing three heavy-duty tractors fitted with chippers and row plough. I want you to work with our officers to develop a program for your community. We’ll put one of the tractors in Lethem and that machine will service this and other areas around Lethem. We’ll also put one in the North and one in the South. These machines will be used to help the Village Council as well as individual farmers to develop their plots and farms. We are now at the procurement stage to purchase these machines,” Minister Mustapha said.

“Since taking office, I’ve been making changes to the way several agencies under the Ministry’s umbrella operate. The New GMC is one of those agencies. We had a change in management and the agency is now refocusing its efforts to act the marketing aspect of its name. Only recently, several farmers from this Region had 50,000 pounds of peanuts and we were able to find a market for those farmers. These farmers were also paid with cash so you don’t have to worry about not being paid on time for your produce or being forced to barter as is often the case in this region,” Minister Mustapha said.

The subject Minister also told villagers that with the new agro-processing facilities being constructed across the Region, they would be able to benefit from better prices for their produce.

“We are encouraging value-added produce to increase your earnings. These facilities will be outfitted with the necessary equipment to improve the packaging and labeling of your produce. You will not have to worry about spoilage because you will now have facilities that will be able to process your crops and extend their shelf life,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha also instructed the NDIA to send an excavator to commence digging of a fish pond after villagers sought the assistance of the Minister to construct these facilities so that they could venture into aquaculture. Those works are scheduled to commence before the end of the month.

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