– $33.2B budget for agri. sector successfully passed
– $104M to be expended under mangrove sea defense at Danzig
– expansion of brackish water shrimp project continues
During day two of the consideration of estimates and expenditure for Budget 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture’s $33.2 billion budget was successfully passed. To date, this is the largest budgeted allocation for the ministry as the government continues its efforts to develop the sector.
While defending the budget and responding to questions posed by members of the Opposition, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha disclosed that construction of the state-of-the-art abattoir should be completed before the end of the year.
Minister Mustapha explained that given Guyana’s livestock development and beef production plans, the establishment of such a facility remains a top priority. He noted that contrary to what was reported by an Opposition Member of Parliament, it was the sitting government that signed a contract to commence work on the project which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
“This was the abattoir that the Honourable Member came and misled this House when he said that they started it in 2020. The contract for this abattoir was signed by the Permanent Secretary in November 2022. We are hoping that by the end of this year, the construction can be completed,” he explained.
As it relates to progress made thus far, Minister Mustapha noted that soon after the contract was signed, the contractor commenced mobilisation. He further stated that the periphery works have already been done at the site that was catered for in previous budgets.
“Some works have commenced that are being monitored closely by the Guyana Livestock Development Authority. Our country is now poised to become a major player in the beef and cattle industry. As I said before, the contract was signed in November and periphery works have been done so far. Funds allocated prior to now were not for the construction. A lot of periphery work was done, including drains, bridges, and things like that. This was done at approximately $89 million,” he noted.
The minister also spoke about plans to enhance the natural sea defense at Danzig in Region Five under the Mangrove Restoration programme at a cost of $104 million. These works, he added, are expected to be completed in approximately 12 months.
“We remember what took place at Danzig. Thousands of acres of land were lost because of seawater encroachment and the breakage of the sea defense. When we were in Opposition, we went to see how we could help the farmers while the government at that time was unresponsive. We’ve examined the situation and we’ve been working closely with the Ministers of Public Works to construct a dam there. We are looking to build or establish natural vegetation there and that is why the mangrove section of the Ministry of Agriculture will facilitate a project to do the breakwater system there so that we can stop the encroachment of seawater from coming into the arable land so that those lands can be brought back under cultivation,” he said.
Brackish water shrimp
Additionally, a sum of $445.2 million was approved to further expand the government’s brackish water shrimp project. While explaining the progress made thus far, Minister Mustapha said any brackish water shrimp farmer who would like to expand their operation will receive help under this project.
“Any fish farmer or brackish water shrimp farmer who needs help will be able to get help under this programme. Last year (2022) when this entire programme was conceptualized, we looked at the subsistence farming that these farmers normally do in these areas. There were about 120 farmers who were producing about 10,000 kilograms of shrimp monthly. We met with them and decided to help them to enhance their ponds. We did infrastructural work and we were able to move brackish water shrimp production, although we did not complete the entire project; we are about 80% of the project, from 10,000 kilograms monthly to 83,000 kilograms by the end of December. When this project is complete, we anticipate production will be 120,000 kilograms monthly.