Government has taken an aggressive approach to ensuring that sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards are met to completely remove the barriers to Guyana’s food exports.
The SPS measures are strategies outlined to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, Wednesday, said due to the blatant negligence of the former APNU+AFC Administration, Guyana’s produce was barred from being exported to well-paid markets, esspecially the region.
Seated before the Economic Services Committee in the chamber of the Parliament Buildings, Minister Mustapha said prior to 2015, the nation exported commodities including pineapple, tangerine, lemon and lime.
“We have lost export to the commodities that were just mentioned because of the SPS, not only in Barbados but other eastern countries. Those exports were lost between 2015 and 2020,” the minister emphasised.
Following the PPP/C Administration’s assumption to office in August 2020, it began a robust drive to ensure those markets were regained and expanded. Government’s intervention has shown many successes, Minister Mustapha told the committee.
“We are driving and moving this process forward. We were able to regain the markets in a number of territories. Because what we have done, we have ensured that our officers work along with these people in the Caribbean to ensure that they know we are upholding these standards.
They know what we are producing and as a result of that our farmers are able to earn this revenue back into the country. Almost every month we are having a lot of farmers filling containers to send to these places,” Minister Mustapha highlighted.
He pointed out that local produces are not only being sold in Caribbean countries, but as far as North America.
He said with new opportunities available in the food industry, more exporters are being added to the list, which means there is an increase in commodities for exportation.
“The ministry was there all the time but I don’t think farmers knew about these rules. They didn’t know what they had to do to get these exports out of the country and how they can find new markets,” the agriculture minister stated.
Minister Mustapha said there is a special department established within the ministry to provide the necessary guidance to farmers nationwide about the necessary measure for successful production.
Additionally, close to 3,000 farmers were trained and are now equipped with the correct field knowledge and attitude to meet the standard for their produce to be exported.
The minister said farm certificates are also being provided to agriculturists which would allow the ministry’s technical officers to effectively determine the status for their production.
Further, investments were also made to ensure extension officers have the necessary tools to effectively work in the fields.
“We have provided tablets so that they could provide real time report from the fields, from places outside of Region Four, we are now having real time reports. We have provided a number of these devices to our officers,” Minister Mustapha added.
The New Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) is also playing a significant role in finding markets for farmers produce.