– IICA launches ‘AgriExtApp’ to modernize Regional agriculture extension services
During a virtual meeting with the Director General for Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and other Ministers of Agriculture from across the region, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha discussed Guyana’s efforts to resuscitate the agriculture sector amid the current global pandemic, COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has impacted our agri-food system in several ways. We saw a reduction in the income for farmers, loss of jobs for some, and increased prices of agriculture inputs and supplies, just to name a few. One major lesson that COVID-19 has highlighted is the need for more resilient agriculture sectors in the Region. In providing continued support to our farmers, it is necessary to facilitate continued access to and diversification of sources for agriculture inputs such as seeds and other planting materials, feeds for poultry, livestock, and other small ruminant animals, and fertilizers. We are exploring alternative sources of feeds to reduce our dependency on external supply and reduce this cost for our farmers. As such the Government of Guyana is providing special incentives for investment in corn and soya,” Minister Mustapha said.
Agriculture Ministers from across the region spoke of the challenges faced in the sector as a result of the global pandemic and vowed to collectively work to enhance regional integration as they seek to rebuild their respective productive sectors.
The subject Minister also said that Caribbean nations needed to work together to transform the way agriculture is done across the Region. He also encouraged the Ministers to use the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit as a launching point to present actions and implement solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“It is imperative that the Caribbean Region work together to transform the way we produce, consume and think about food, ensuring our countries are not left behind. We should use the UN Food Systems Summit as a launching point to take concrete actions and implement solutions that will put us on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our national food systems should be aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All actors in the agri-food system and partners such as IICA will undoubtedly have a vital role to play.
IICA’s Director General, Dr. Manuel Otero also officially launched the ‘AgriExtApp’, a platform developed to foster government-to-government intra-regional trade, as well as share, produce information across the region. The platform is created to allow residents of CARICOM member states to communicate in real-time, the level of production in the region. The launch of the app is said to be congruent with CARICOM’s mandate to transform the region’s agriculture and agri-food system
Dr. Manuel also said that the application will be used by Caribbean farmers and countries that need help with promoting new technologies and best practices
Minister Mustapha said Guyana was grateful for the role of IICA in providing support for the development of an online trade App that will benefit our agro-processors.
“It is our vision to shift agriculture from primary producer to value-added, as such developing our agro-processing industry and enhancing our marketing services is a priority. The AgriExtApp developed by IICA and CARICOM will support the modernization of the Extension service, especially since my government has allocated funds in this year’s budget to purchase tablets for our extension staff, to engage in real-time those involved in this very important sector,” Minister Mustapha said.