Knowledge-based approach necessary to combat climate change

–  Minister Mustapha says during IICA Dialogue

Climate change continues to pose an ever-growing threat to food security and sustainability in Guyana and as such, transformational measures prove crucial in ensuring productivity and buoyancy.

This was affirmed by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, at the Borlaug International Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, attends the Borlaug International Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. This session was titled “Food Governance in an Unprecedented Era”.

The minister emphasised the importance of investments and a calculated approach to combat the global food crisis.

He lamented that Guyana has suffered greatly at the hands of climate change, and that dependency on food imports has had dire consequences on the country’s economy.

However, Minister Mustapha noted that the government has made and continues to make strides to reduce the country’s US$6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, and to reduce exposure to climate shocks.

“Climate change is very real for us. Last year, Guyana suffered one of the most devastating floods in history,” he relayed. “Guyana’s economy has grown incredibly thanks to oil and gas, but it is essential that we diversify. Today, we produce 60% of the food we consume, but we are not satisfied,” he said.

The minister also emphasised the need for a collaborative effort to facilitate a transformation in the global agri-food process. He pointed out that it is necessary to promote indemnity for farmers who have suffered losses from natural disasters.

Guyana’s agriculture sector accounts for approximately one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and has seen steady improvements to facilitate sustainability and a boost in domestic production.

Additionally, investors, both foreign and from the Guyanese diaspora, have shown significant interest in the country’s recent advancements in the agriculture sector and as such have made notable contributions to facilitate the continuation of this progress.

In the 2022 budget, some $28.7 billion was allocated towards the advancement of the agriculture sector.

Since then, the sector has seen tremendous development.

In fact, the mid-year report discloses that ‘the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is estimated to have expanded by 10.9 per cent in the first half of the year.’

This year’s dialogue is themed “Feeding a fragile world” on account of the concurrent and interconnected repercussions of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Eastern Europe on the agriculture sector.

This session was organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation (IICA) in collaboration with the World Food Price Foundation (WFP).  Carlos Salcedo Zaldivar, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs of Panama; Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); and Shahryar Ali Khan, Minister of State at the Federal Government of Pakistan also participated in the dialogue.