Guyana poised to become a food hub for CARICOM – Min. Mustapha

Farmers from Reg. 10, Linden/Soesdyke Highway promised govt’s support

During an outreach to several communities in Region Ten and along the Linden/Soesdyke Highway (Region Four), Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha reassured farmers that they will continue to benefit from the country’s resources as the government works to make Guyana a regional food hub.

Minister Mustapha traveled to Christianburg, Block 42, Moblissa, Yarrowkabra, and Kuru Kururu to meet with farmers from several communities to discuss the government’s plans to develop the agriculture sector in those areas and to listen to any issues that farmers and residents may be facing.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha while addressing farmers from Block 42 and other surrounding communities

While engaging farmers, Minister Mustapha said the government intends to increase production as it works with other CARICOM member states to lower the regional food import bill. To achieve this, he noted, Guyana has to play that leading role and is already poised to become a food hub for the region.

He explained that farmers from every community have a role to play if Guyana is to achieve its goal and that the government will continue to make the necessary resources available to ensure the sector becomes resilient.

While acknowledging the government’s interventions to improve and develop the sector, several farmers sought the minister’s assistance with providing an update on applications made for land titles to expand their cultivation. The farmers explained that in order to receive loans from the bank to expand, they need the necessary documentation for the lands which have to be issued from either the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) or the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). 

A section of the gathering at Kuru Kururu

Farmers also sought the minister’s assistance with agricultural inputs such as seeds, seedlings, farming tools, machinery with implements, Black Giant chicks, and piglets to develop the poultry and swine industries.

Onifa Pantlitz, a 22-year-old student of the University of Guyana residing at Blueberry Hill, Linden told the minister that, like many other young people in her community, she was interested in swine production and sought the minister’s assistance with getting involved in the sector.

While responding to her request, Minister Mustapha said he was delighted to hear about her interest in the sector as the government has been working to get more youths involved in agriculture.

“I am happy that you want to get involved in agriculture. I am also happy to hear that more young people have the same desire. I am charging you to get those young people together and form a group and I will assist you with getting involved in swine production. We have an investor who will be building a processing factory to produce sausages and so on and we’ll need pork to supply that factory. The demand for pork will increase tremendously so you can concentrate on doing that,” he noted.

A youth from Blueberry, Linden who expressed an interest in swine production

He also noted that 50 residents from various communities along the highway were identified to receive piglets from the ministry and that the programme will continue. While encouraging beneficiaries to take good care of the animals he urged them to ensure the animals are housed in secure areas so that they wouldn’t venture out and damage other farmers’ crops.  

As it relates to poultry development, Minister Mustapha disclosed that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) has an ongoing Black Giant Chicken programme targeting vulnerable groups, especially single parents.

A farmer from Moblissa raising an issue

“We have this programme and since you’ve expressed an interest, we’ll assist you with these birds. We’ll target single mothers and other vulnerable groups and they will be able to supply other persons in the community. These birds, as you know, are large dual-purpose chickens, with the ability to produce up to two hundred (200) eggs annually and about 4.5 kilogrammes of meat,” he explained.

Minister Mustapha also committed to assisting with irrigation challenges. During the meeting at Yarrowkabra, farmers from Circuitville, related that while they wish to expand their production, irrigation remains a challenge. Minister Mustapha told them that a team of engineers from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will visit the area and once a water source is found they will work to develop it so that farmers can benefit from irrigation.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha engaging farmers from Yarrowkabra

Farming communities will also benefit from tools, seeds, seedlings, Acoushi Ants’ bait, and other farming inputs. The minister also committed to ensuring farmers benefit from improved extension services as the ministry is currently working to revamp its extension department to better serve farmers across the country.

Friday’s meetings were attended by representatives from Banakari, Circuitville, Yarrowkabra, Moblissa, Block 42, Blueberry Hill, Hauraruni, Wisroc, Christianburg, Wismar, Kuru Kururu, and other surrounding communities.