Collaborative effort critical to agricultural development – Minister Mustapha tells Reg. 6 farmers

  • interventions for improved D&I, paddy bug infestation among issues discussed

Agriculture Minister, Hon Zulfikar Mustapha has maintained that there needs to be a collaborative effort between the government, farmers, and stakeholders for Guyana’s agriculture sector to continue to develop.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

He made those remarks over the weekend during several community meetings in Region Six (East Berbice – Corentyne). Over the past weeks, following the passage of the historic $1.146 trillion National Budget, Minister Mustapha has been traveling across the country to discuss some of the programmes that the government will be implementing to improve the lives of citizens and farmers across the country.

While engaging residents and farmers from Sandvoort, Minister Mustapha said that the ministry will be working to give farmers better access to lands as well as improve and upgrade the country’s drainage and irrigation system.

A young poultry farmer from Sandvoort engages the visiting team during the meeting

“This year, $97 billion was allocated to the agriculture sector. In 2020, when I became minister, the budget for the sector was $13.5 billion. In 2015, the last year of the previous PPP/C Government, the agriculture budget was $18.5 billion. Instead of having an increase, there was a decrease, demonstrating clearly that the sector was being deemphasized. Guyana is rich in natural resources but we’ve seen during the pandemic, that many countries were unable to access food. This is why we have to ensure we continue to develop, expand, and modernize our agriculture sector and we all have a part to play,” Minister Mustapha explained.

Minister Mustapha also said that the ministry would continue to work with farmers to ensure they have the resources and infrastructure needed to expand their operations. He said that a lot has been done to promote agriculture, especially among the younger demographic since the government took office in 2020.

A section of the gathering at the meeting in Mibikuri

Young cash crop and poultry farmers from the area also shared similar sentiments, thanking the government for the ongoing work being done to develop agriculture in the community.

A young farmer who attended the meeting took the opportunity to encourage other young people from the community to get involved in agriculture sighting the many opportunities that are now being made available under the leadership of His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, and Minister Mustapha.

He stated that his decision to enter the sector came after attending a poultry sensitization seminar in the region some time ago. While explaining that he has had successes since joining the sector, he sought the minister’s intervention by supplying additional support for other young farmers from the West Canje area. Minister Mustapha charged the young farmers present at the meeting with gathering the other young farmers in and around the community, pledging his support to assist them with developing their agricultural pursuits.

Meanwhile, during meetings held at Mibikuri (Black Bush Polder) and Number 63 Village on the Corentyne Coast, while emphasizing the importance of having a resilient drainage and irrigation system, Minister Mustapha said that the plans are well underway for the construction of the massive Hope-like canal.  

Minister Mustapha and Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh recently met with contractors who submitted expressions of interest (EOI) for the massive undertaking.

The Hope-like canals are expected to be constructed at Whim and No. 52 – 54 Village on the Corentyne Coats and form part of the government’s national flood risk management plan.

Paddy bug and leaf folder

Rice farmers also raised concerns about instances of paddy bug and leaf folder infestation. The ministry’s Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has been hosting several outreaches in the various rice-producing areas across the country to sensitize farmers hoping to minimize losses.

Only recently, a notice was issued by the GRDB advising farmers on what to look for and what measures should be taken to minimize damage as it relates to the leaf folder pest. The ministry also continues to work with farmers to promote its “6-point” initiative and paddy bug management programme. Minister Mustapha told farmers that the ministry will continue to work with farmers and provide technical support to monitor and minimize threats posed by paddy bugs and other pests and diseases. He also said that the GRDB’s Rice Research Station is constantly working to develop higher-yielding pest-resistant varieties of rice as the government works towards increasing rice production over the next two years.