(Guyana Chronicle) As part of continued efforts to enhance the infrastructure within the agriculture sector, the Ministry of Agriculture has awarded 20 contracts valuing over $1 billion.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, speaking at a simple signing ceremony at the Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday, urged contractors that the time will not be extended for the contracts that have been awarded.
“Last year, we had some problems with contracts. Let us look at correcting those problems and work and get this work finished on time,” Minister Mustapha said.
He also said that the ministry was looking to put more drying floors to decrease conflict between pedestrians and farmers.
“So, we are seeing a lot of progress being made in the agriculture sector. You are the critical link for us; you are the critical support for us,” Minister Mustapha related.
Among the contracts awarded was one valuing $19 million for the retrofitting of the Pomeroon Women’s Association building, as part of efforts to encourage more agro-processing in the community, thereby contributing to food security and wealth generation.
Further, under the same contract, for the building to be fully operational after being retrofitted, equipment such as coolers or chillers, stainless steel tables, industrial scales with digital display and more will be procured.
Additionally, separate contracts valuing $56.6 million were signed for the construction of 100 shade houses at Mon Repos, for the Agri Investment and Expo.
Further, five contracts were signed between five different contractors and the Agriculture Ministry for the construction of a drying floor in Somerset, Region Two, an all-weather road and insectary in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), the installation of a paddy dryer and pre-cleaner at Black Bush Polder, Region Six, and the supply of an agriculture drone for the Burma Rice Research Station.
It was reported that with agriculture being one of Guyana’s most important and productive sectors, in excess of $22 billion has been allocated for the Ministry of Agriculture in the 2022 national budget.
“The total of the budget for agriculture is approximately $22 billion… it’s one of the best budgets I’ve ever heard; the budget will continue the projects that are in our manifesto, and it will see the economic transformation of Guyana.
“It is people-centred and it is focused on the continued transformation of our country,” Minister Mustapha had said.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, said that Guyana was uniquely poised to take advantage of production and trade opportunities in food products across the Caribbean region.
The minister said that Guyana was committed to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Twenty-Five by 25 initiative which aims to cut the extra-regional food import bill by 2025.
He added that the Government of Guyana was focused on ramping up domestic production as well as agro-processing capabilities and was working with the region to remove all historic barriers and impediments to intra-regional trade and promoting more agri-business and complete transformation of regional food systems.
On the domestic front, focus will be placed on both traditional crops as well as new and emerging ones.
These commitments, he said, are “golden [opportunities] for Guyana to finally realise its potential as the breadbasket of the Caribbean.”
The government is committed to the enhancement of the sugar and rice industries, livestock industry, fisheries and aquaculture, non-traditional crops, agro-processing and the coconut industry.