The People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government has set the record straight on the previous APNU+AFC Coalition’s mismanagement of the agriculture sector, revealing the discovery of some 16,000 bags of spoilt fertilisers, when this government took office in 2020.
“Mr. Speaker, they talked about spoilt fertilisers, but let me say something, when we took government in 2020, and we went to the bond at NAREI [National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute], there were 16,000 bags of fertilisers that was spoilt,” Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha told the National Assembly, Wednesday.
Minister Mustapha was at the time responding to Opposition Member of Parliament, Vinceroy Jordan, who he said, brought a host of “misinformation” to the house, during the budget debate.
He said the previous government failed all subsectors in the agriculture industry. The highlight of the callous behaviour, he underscored, is the destruction of the sugar industry, firing some 7,000 sugar workers and devastating countless families.
The PPP/C Government has already reemployed close to 1,500 workers within the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), allowing them to provide a livelihood for their families and contribute to the recovery of their village economies.
Making a case during the heated debate, the minister stated that there are also plans to reopen the Rose Hall Estate, during the second crop of 2023.
With $4 billion allocated to the sugar industry this year, investments will continue at Albion, Rose Hall, Blairmont, and Uitvlugt, by returning to lands that were out of cane prior to 2020 and damaged by the floods of 2021.
Turning his attention to rice, the minister posited that 2023 will see the cultivation of more than 170,000 hectares of rice to yield an increase in production, to 652,103 metric tonnes.
“How can we destroy the rice industry, when they [the opposition] increased drainage and irrigation (D&I) and land rental by $6,000. They increase land rentals and D&I fees from $3,500 to $15,000,” Minister Mustapha disclosed.
Commendably, the rice industry is expected to grow significantly by 8.3 per cent in 2023, as the government pushes to meet its target of positioning the industry to continue its upward trajectory to achieve 1,000,000 tonnes of rice by 2025.
Guyana earned approximately $42 billion in exports in 2022 and this year, the government plans to construct two drying floors at Cotton Tree and Windsor Forest to further support rice production.
“We have revolutionised the infrastructure in this country, we have changed the landscape in this country. Over the last two years, Mr Speaker, a number of critical D&I works were executed,” the minister stated.
Compared to the APNU+AFC Administration’s contribution to agriculture infrastructure in five years, the PPP/C Government completed 12 pump stations in 2021 and “we will build another eight.”
The construction and rehabilitation of these pump stations will account for approximately $600 million.
The administration plans to build pump stations at Meten-Meer-Zorg and Bell Vue, Region Three; Jimbo Grove, Region Four; and Letter Kenny/Bloomfield, Region Six.
Accordingly, citizens will witness the rehabilitation of pump stations at Anchorville, Region Six and Pouderoyen, Region Three. These significant undertakings will benefit over 10,000 acres of farmlands and over 5,000 farmers.
Minister Mustapha said the 2023 budget will address the socio-economic transformation of Guyana and continue to fortify the government’s ‘One Guyana’ vision.
Guyana’s leadership on the 25 by 2025 initiative by CARICOM, aimed at reducing the extra-regional agri-food import bill by 25 per cent by the year 2025, is evidence that agriculture is viewed as a mainstay of Guyana’s economy and a fundamental development pillar for our future low carbon development path.