“Agriculture will be restored under this government,” – Min. Mustapha assures Kwakwani farmers

-100 acres to be developed to house cattle
-Secondary Schools to benefit from shadehouse

During a series of meetings with farmers from Kwakwani last Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha pledged the government’s support to restore agriculture in the communities.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha while addressing farmers from Kwakwani

Generally known for logging and agriculture, Kwakwani, a community located along the Berbice River in Region Ten, is also known for its agricultural potential and outputs.

During a meeting at the Kwakwani workers’ club, several farmers who engaged the minister indicated that they are passionate about agriculture and the government’s investments but need assistance to take their production to the next level.

One farmer said her farm is constantly under attack by Acoushi ants and cattle that are owned by other farmers in the community.

After the meeting, Minister Mustapha handed over a quantity of agricultural inputs to farmers from Kwakwani

“You can be asleep and by the time you get up in the morning the druggers (Acoushi ants) are gone with all your produce. It is not the druggers, is the cows. People loosing their cows and it coming into my garden and eating out my things and I am not the only farmer this is happening to,” the farmer indicated.

Another farmer told the minister that she would like to get into agro-processing. She explained that after selling her produce, the surplus often is dumped because she has no market for them and would like to learn how to produce soaps and other commodities. 

Meanwhile, another farmer at the meeting told the minister that many farmers in the community need technical knowledge and financing to expand. 

A farmer from Kwakwani while raising an issue

While responding to farmers, Minister Mustapha said that a programme has been implemented where farmers from hinterland communities are now able to benefit from free acoustic ant bait.

“This programme has been in place since I became Minister of Agriculture and you will also benefit. I will also make ten bongo pumps and chemicals available to the community to assist with managing the Acoushi ants. You will also receive planting materials to assist with expanding your cultivation,” he said.

While addressing concerns raised by farmers about cattle in the community, Minister Mustapha said that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) will work with the community to develop lands to house cattle.

“We want to develop the cattle industry but this cannot be to the detriment of the other sectors. So, through the GLDA, we’ll identify and develop 100 acres for cattle in the community. We’ll fence it so that the cattle cannot go into your farms and destroy your crops. We’re also promoting agro-processing. One farmer said she wanted to get involved in the production of soap and other commodities so, very soon, officers from the New GMC will come and do some training. They will also assist with finding markets for your crops and agro-processed products,” the minister said.

Minister Mustapha also said that assistance will be given to the agricultural science department at the Kwakwani Secondary School.

“I’m happy to see so many students in attendance. This shows that young people are excited about agriculture. So, to help those writing CSEC exams, we’ll donate a shadehouse to the school’s agriculture science department. Officers from NAREI will set it up and provide the planting materials to get started. We’ll also donate six piglets to the school from the GLDA,” he added.

Farmers seeking financial assistance were encouraged to submit applications to the Small Business Bureau so that they can access grants to expand their farms. Minister Mustapha also promised to engage officials from the Demerara Bank to see how banking services can be extended to the community.

Farmers present at the meeting also received seeds, chemicals, gardening tools, and other agricultural inputs. Teams from the various agencies are expected to return to the ministry to deliver on commitments made by the minister in the coming weeks.