–400 chicks, feed donated to assist with CSEC, CAPE farm management SBA
–Min. Mustapha says ministry looking to replicate similar initiatives at other schools across the country
Today, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha handed over 400 broiler chicks and starter feed amounting to approximately $310,000 to the President’s College Agriculture Science Department to assist students with completing the farm management aspect of their School-Based Assessment (SBA).
This donation was made after the school’s headteacher wrote to the minister requesting urgent help with restoring the school’s agriculture science department as the students prepared for their CSEC and CAPE Exams later this year.
During the handing over, which was done at the ministry’s head office on Regent Street, Minister Mustapha said that the ministry has already embarked on several other projects aimed at improving the school’s farm which is managed by the students in the agriculture science department.
“In addition to these chicks that you are receiving today, the ministry is also in the process of rehabilitating the school’s entire farm so that students have the necessary resources and facilities to fully prepare for their exams. I hope that we will be able to replicate this initiative across the country at different schools because it is important for us to start the process in the school system to ensure our students are well prepared for the professional agricultural field. Guyana’s average pass rate for agriculture at the last sitting of CSEC was about 95%. This shows that our students are very passionate about agriculture so, as a government, we have to ensure that both their theoretical and practical knowledge are strengthened. This is the only way they will be able to have an all-around and comprehensive understanding of the industry,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha further stated that with Guyana now tasked with driving the agriculture agenda in CARICOM and His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali spearheading the CARICOM agri-food systems agenda, it was important for the government to facilitate the development of a strong agriculture sector locally.
Under the ministry’s Rural Agriculture Infrastructure Development (RAID) Project the ministry has since completed the construction of a shadehouse and a timber bridge at the school’s farm as well as upgrades to the farm access road. A cattle perimeter fence will also be constructed at the farm to assist with the rearing of livestock as well as the establishment of a one-acre passion fruit plot. Coconut seedlings will also be planted at the farm.
President’s College’s Headteacher (acting) Ms. Samantha Success, while expressing gratitude to the minister for the donation said that the vision for agriculture in Guyana was clear and that the school’s agriculture department was enthusiastic about playing their part in bringing that vision to life.
“We wrote a letter pleading our cause and I want to thank the Minister for his timely response. Almost immediately after sending the email, we received a response so I can say to the country at large that you have a vision and you want that vision to be accomplished. Just like you, we are passionate about having that vision accomplished too. We are very grateful, Honourable Minister, that you reached out to us. We are enthusiastic, we are synergized that we must keep the hope of agriculture. We are no longer looking back. We are very optimistic about the future,” the headteacher noted.
Additional support will also be given to the department through the RAID Project which will see the construction of a poultry and vegetable processing facility. The facility, which is currently under construction is expected to be completed by May 2022 at a cost of $15 million. An additional 25 bags of grower feed and 10 bags of finisher feed will also be handed over to the school when the birds have matured.
Since assuming office in August 2020, the PPP/C Government has been making a significant impact in the sector, more so, among the younger demographic. To date, the ministry has made several donations to a number of schools, community-based agriculture groups, and Co-ops across the country.
Last month, President Ali launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme which forms part of the government’s vision for empowering youths while further developing Guyana’s agriculture sector. This programme, in its first phase, will see the construction of twenty-five (25) shadehouses that will be used to cultivate high-value crops such as carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. The programme targets both current and past students of the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), the University of Guyana (UG), and other budding agriculture entrepreneurs.