FAO, Agri. Ministry partner to better equip small fishers

– some 150 artisanal fishers to benefit from safety gear

Today the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations handed over a quantity of safety equipment to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Department as part of its Emergency Response and Early Recovery Support to Smallholder Farmers Affected by the 2021 Floods in Guyana and Suriname programme.

The donation, which saw some 150 pieces of safety gear, comprising fuel containers, life jackets, first-aid kits, rain jackets, and whistles, were procured for approximately $9.6 million. 

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while offering remarks said the fisheries sub-sector was one of the most important and second-highest income earning sub-sector within the agriculture sector.

“Approximately 9,000 people directly depend on this sector while thousands indirectly depend on it to earn a livelihood. The government will therefore continue to make the necessary interventions and give the necessary support to our fisherfolk. They are important stakeholders to help achieve a food-secure CARICOM as they continue to brave the elements so that we are able to consume protein at a cheap cost,” the minister said.

He also said that the government had taken note of the challenges faced by fishermen due to low catches over the past year which saw H.E. President Dr. Irfaan Ali announcing a $150,000 one-off grant for fishers.

Some of the items that were donated by the FAO

“The significance of this year being the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture is emphasized in the theme, ‘’small in scale, big in value.’’. Our President, H.E. Dr. Irfaan Ali earlier this year recognized the challenges our fishers are facing with low catches stemming from key global issues, such as climate change, and ocean acidification, and in response announced a one-off relief grant to all fishers to the tune of $150,000 to help ease the burdens they face. We are currently in the process of distributing these grants to those who earn a living at sea,” he added.

Minister Mustapha also said that the report done by the FAO to determine the factors behind the low catches will be released soon.   

FAO’s Country Representative, Dr. Gillian Smith while offering remarks said the ability of small fishers to stay safe at sea remains a great concern to policymakers and pledged FAO’s continued support to the government in this regard. 

FAO Country Representative, Dr. Gillian Smith

“This is part of an emergency response project that we started in which we’ve done some work with livestock and crop farmers. Today, we are very grateful to be working with the ministry for fishers, in particular small fishers. We know that there is a great concern for small fishers and their ability to stay safe at sea while they are making their livelihood so we are very pleased to provide some support,” Dr. Smith said.

Some 150 fishers from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six are expected to benefit from the project.