A section of the gathering during the meeting at Albion

In its efforts to improve services offered to farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture will soon move to have a central extension department established at the ministry’s head office.  

This was disclosed by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha Wednesday during several outreaches in Regions Five and Six.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

While in Region Five, Minister Mustapha met with members of the Three-Door Fishermen Coop Society. During the meeting, Minister Mustapha told fishermen that during a recent meeting with His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the issue of low catches was raised and that the government has committed to ensuring an analysis is conducted to determine the cause of the low catches.

Minister Mustapha also told the fishermen that the ministry will work to ensure they benefit from better infrastructure and utilities at the Coop’s facility, located at D’Edward Village, Mahaica-Berbice.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha engages a fisherman from the Three-Door Fishermen Coop-Society

After meeting with the fishermen, Minister Mustapha continued to Region Six where he met with farmers and residents from several parts of the region.

During the meetings which were held at the Community Center Grounds in Canje and Albion, farmers from several villages raised concerns about not receiving regular visits from extension officers attached to the various agencies that fall under the ministry. One farmer who cultivates along the Corentyne River told the minister that, prior to Wednesday’s meeting, extension officers were instructed to visit several farmers in the area but, to date, those visits have not been conducted.

Minister Mustapha greets a farmer during his meeting in Canje

After receiving several similar reports at both meetings, Minister Mustapha announced that very soon all extension officers from the various agencies will be placed under a central extension department. The minister explained further that extension managers will be tasked with overseeing the operations of the department.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha handing over a hamper to one of the members of the Coop in the presence of other Ministry and Regional officials

I’ve been saying this over and over. Extension officers have to ensure they work and are more responsive to farmers’ needs. This is why we’ve decided to bring all of our extension officers under the Ministry of Agriculture; centrally. We’ll have extension managers to manage them and they will have to submit weekly reports to the ministry. This is one of the steps that we are taking to revamp the ministry’s extension department. This will also ensure our extension officers are more accountable and responsive,” Minister Mustapha said.

While highlighting other interventions scheduled to be put in place, Minister Mustapha also assured the farmers planting along the Corentyne River that a team comprising officers from the various agencies will visit them in the coming week to assist with their farming needs.

A section of the gathering during the meeting at Albion

“I want to assure the Corentyne River farmers that you will receive the help that you are asking for so that your farms can be restored. The fishermen who are at the wharf at Albion, I made a commitment when I was here that we will build the road to help you to transport your catches from Albion to the Fyrish area. That road is now in the tendering stage and a contract will be awarded shortly. We are also working to restore the pump that GuySuCo has in the area. We’ve already awarded a contract to fix that it. We also have additional pumps that were brought to the Corentyne during the flood and we also did a lot of emergency works to dams and other structures to minimize the intrusion of floodwaters during that period. Those pumps are still here,” Minister Mustapha said.

Minister Mustapha also told residents with the establishment of the gas-to-shore project; the region will also benefit from a lot of economic activities resulting in a significant boost to the village economy.