- Agri. Minister says Gov’t working towards digitizing agri. data
- extension officers to receive additional resources to assist farmers, improve data collection
Extension officers from Regions Three, Four, and Five will, over the next three days, participate in an agricultural extension restructuring in-service training exercise at the Guyana School of Agriculture’s Mon Repos campus.
The exercise was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government’s overall vision for developing the sector.
During the opening of today’s session, Agriculture Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha said the programme was developed to ensure that the ministry’s extension staff are capable of dealing with a wide range of agriculture-related issues irrespective of the agency they are attached to.
He noted too that Guyana is playing the leading role as it pertains to agriculture and food security in CARICOM and as such, Guyana’s agriculture sector has to be robust.
“For continued expansion and growth in the agriculture sector, we need a robust and coordinated extension and advisory services system that is accessible to all farmers and rural families. This requires Extension Officers to be proactive, extending their reach and services into every village, region, and eventually to every single known farmer in Guyana. It is necessary that every Extension Officer has at least a basic knowledge of every sub-sector to be able to provide quality extension service to our farmers. All of this is strengthening Guyana’s agri-food system and enabling us to significantly contribute to reducing the Region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025.,” he explained.
Minister Mustapha also said that the government is taking steps to ensure extension officers are given additional resources to better execute their duties.
“In addition to training, the Ministry of Agriculture is committed to ensuring that you are provided with the necessary resources to execute your duties as we work on building “One Extension System.”As part of our future plans, the Ministry of Agriculture will be implementing a Farmers Registration System. This is currently being developed as part of the integrated Agriculture Information System (AIS) and will allow also for a dedicated extension module. We will also be distributing tablets with better specifications for extension officers to ensure that they have the necessary tools to utilize the integrated AIS. Over time, we will eventually transition to a paperless system. Demonstration plots will also be developed in Regions Two, Three, Five, Six, and Ten to promote the use of good agricultural practices and technology transfer,” he noted.
Over the next three days, extension officers will be exposed to a series of training programmes designed to equip them with the necessary knowledge to efficiently execute their duties.
Emphasis will be placed on strengthening capacity in areas such as crop cultivation, livestock husbandry, land preparation, fisheries/aquaculture (understanding the techniques for harvesting, marketing, and processing fish and shrimp), fruits and vegetables (harvesting techniques, on-field handling, transportation, and post-harvest management methods), digitalization of data (critical importance of data and data quality will be underscored by introducing the concepts of Monitoring and Evaluation), extension methods and tools, as well as the concept of Farmer Field Schools.
Earlier this year, Minister Mustapha launched the country-wide exercise in Georgetown and said that several breakout sessions will be held as the government moves forward its developmental plans for the sector.
Today’s exercise saw participation from officers attached to the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC), the Fisheries Department and other agencies under the ministry’s umbrella.