Gov’t will continue to support agricultural development – Min. Mustapha

– Farmers from No. 7 & No. 10 Villages, Ithaca assured of continued development

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha hosted several interactive farmers’ meetings on Saturday (November 11, 2023) across Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) during which he assured farmers that the government will continue to support agricultural development in Guyana.

Minister Mustapha led a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Executives on a regional outreach and held meetings in No. 7 Village, No. 10 Village, and Ithaca. 

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and other officials while addressing farmers from No. 10 Village, WCB

While farmers all attested to efforts made by the ministry to develop the agriculture sector over the last three years, several issues were raised with the visiting team.

Farmers from No. 10 Village sought the Minister’s intervention with improved irrigation infrastructure as effective water resource management is now deemed critical.

While responding to their requests, Minister Mustapha explained that for most of the issues raised, works were either ongoing or are scheduled to commence shortly.

“We are currently doing some rehabilitation of the right bank of the Mahaica Creek. An excavator will be mobilized on Tuesday to address the issues with the tubes and the embankment at Little Biaboo. The rehabilitation of the pontoon is expected to be completed in two weeks. Once that is done NDIA will recommence excavation of the creek and use the earth to build the right bank. The Branch Road Canal, rehabilitation work is about 50% complete. That is also ongoing. It’s 600 rods. So, you see, many issues being raised, work has already commenced to address them. For those other issues, let us set a target to have most of that work completed by the end of November. Our engineers will do an assessment so that we can try to identify what is urgent and work based on what is prioritized,” he noted.

A farmer from Ithaca while raising an issue during the meeting

Meanwhile, at No. 7 Village and Ithaca, farmers present at the meeting requested assistance with inputs for rice and cash crops as well as feed supplements for their livestock. Requests were also made for improved farm-to-market roads.

Minister Mustapha told the farmers that extension officers from the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will make the necessary planting materials available so that farmers can continue to expand their cultivation.

“We will make all the seeds and planting materials available so that you can develop your farms. We will also assist with fertilizers for farmers. Last year, the government distributed $1 billion worth of fertilizer to assist with production. A few days ago, the President announced that an additional $850 million would be allocated to procure more fertilizer to help farmers. Soon that tender will be out and hopefully, you can have it for this new crop. So, we’ll continue to work with you,” Minister Mustapha explained.

As it relates to inputs for livestock, Minister Mustapha told farmers that extension officers from the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) will be distributing molasses to farmers in the region in the new week. As it relates to farm-to-market roads, the minister said he will work to have a team of engineers visit the area to do an assessment to see how best they can facilitate those requests.

“I cannot commit to that now because we are already at the end of the year, but we will work with you,” he added.

A section of the farmers who attended the meeting at No. 10 Village, WCB

With Guyana playing the lead role in agriculture and food security in CARICOM the government remains committed to ensuring farmers benefit from improved infrastructure while being able to access the necessary resources to expand their production. Minister Mustapha told farmers that Guyana’s agriculture sector is transforming rapidly and is once again seen as the most important sector in the country. He disclosed that funds will be made available in the 2024 budget to develop some 20,000 acres of land for the cultivation of rice and cash crops within the MMA Scheme. He also said that three pastures are currently being developed to facilitate livestock development in the region.

As it relates to drainage and irrigation, Minister Mustapha said that some $50 million had been expended to execute D&I works in Ithaca.