$122B spent in Guyana’s agri. sector from 2020 to 2023 – Min. Mustapha

The PPP/C Government has expended some $122 billion on various projects to implement strategic policies in Guyana’s agriculture sector thus far when compared to the APNU+AFC Administration’s $93 billion in five years.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, the money spent by the previous government showed little to no results, since there was no proper vision.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

The minister, was at the time, contributing to the 2024 budget debates in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“I2014, the last year of the PPP/C Government, before we came out of office in 2015, the budgetary allocation in the agriculture sector was $15.4 billion. And in 2019, the last full year for the APNU/AFC government, instead of increasing the allocation as they so love want agriculture to be the backbone of Guyana’s economy…What did they do? They reduced the budgetary allocation to $13.1 billion.”

This year alone, $97.6 billion is budgeted to propel Guyana’s food security agenda. 

The agriculture minister also highlighted the continuous growth of the agriculture sector in the various sub-sectors in 2023 as compared to 2019.  

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors are estimated to have expanded by a monumental seven per cent in 2023.

Minister Mustapha highlighted, “Many countries around the world are contracting. Today, the agriculture sector, alone, is growing by 7 per cent. And this year, we will see it grow by almost 10.4 per cent.”

For 2023, the sugar industry grew by 28 per cent while it declined by 11.8 per cent in 2019. Rice expanded in 2023 by seven per cent while there was a mere one per cent increase in 2019. The other crops sector grew by 4.1 per cent in 2023, while there was a meagre growth of 0.3 per cent in 2019.

The livestock industry increased by 12.7 per cent in 2023 while 2019 recorded a decline of 3.5 per cent. In 2023, Guyana’s fishing industry increased by 37.8 per cent and 25 per cent in the aquaculture sector.

“You know what they had? They [APNU/AFC] had a minus of 0.39 per cent. That is the development we are talking about…That is what we have to show…We have a policy to ensure that Guyana becomes food secure,” added Minister Mustapha.

He further alluded to the many opportunities that young people of the country are benefitting from.

One such initiative is the hydroponics project which was launched in 2023 and will commence shortly in Regions Two, Five and Ten benefitting over 300 youths.  

Minister Mustapha noted that many communities across the country continue to benefit from various interventions to fast-track agriculture and employment opportunities in their communities.

Last year, the community of Baracara, along the Berbice received solar panels and $14 million in farming inputs and machinery to develop economic activities. These include the commencement of the production of red beans.

Other communities are continuously benefitting from farming inputs and equipment, agro-processing opportunities, increased access to farmlands, and drainage and irrigation (D&I) infrastructural works.

Region One, which is considered the spice region, will soon harvest 300 acres of ginger.

Additionally, 100 acres of turmeric are being grown in the region.

“This is where we would have almost two million pounds of ginger coming out of Region One…We have $28 million of planting materials that we have distributed in Region One,” he added.

In Region Seven, solar dryers are available in Kamarang, while a $45 million investment for cold storage in Bartica is in progress.

Shade houses and other agricultural inputs were also distributed to the young people in Bartica.

The ministry also conducted various D&I works to the tune of $128 million in Bartica in 2023.

In Region Eight, agriculture is also being empowered there. Over 900 farmers received support with farming inputs and equipment.

The region also benefitted from a $5 million support for the hot meal kitchen.

The communities of Kato and Monkey Mountain received tractors with various implements.

Meanwhile, almost nine villages in Region Nine are cultivating rice. A small rice harvester was also provided to the region for enhanced rice production.

The women’s groups in Region Nine are being supported as five agro-processing facilities are available in areas such as St Ignatius and elsewhere.

Minister Mustapha noted that for the first time in the history of the country, a conversancy is being constructed in Region Ten.

An agro-processing facility is available in Watooka to enhance value-added production and economic growth. 

He added that the comprehensive budget 2024 caters to everyone, as it seeks to continue the unprecedented and rapid development that the government commenced three years ago.