Data center, FabLab among Gov’t’s plans to modernize GSA

  • Min. Mustapha announces at launch of EnGenDER project
  • -gov’t working with IICA to make institution a ‘Center for Excellence’

The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture has signaled its intention to transform its premiere agricultural learning institution to cater to the advances within the sector.

Minister Mustapha along with members of teh Diplomatic Community while cutting the ribbon to launch the project

During the launch of the Empowering Women and Youth Through the Mainstreaming of Climate-Smart Agriculture Technologies programme at the Guyana School of Agriculture’s (GSA) Mon Repos campus, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha disclosed that the government will be partnering with the Inter-American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) to make GSA a Center for Excellence.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

While addressing the gathering, Minister Mustapha said that the GSA has, over the years, played a very important role in molding agricultural practitioners across the region and that the government was taking the necessary action to further develop the institute to offer additional resources and programmes in that regard.

“Over the years, the Guyana School of Agriculture has played a very important role in developing agriculture not only in Guyana but across the Caribbean. This year, as was announced during the opening of the CARICOM Summit by His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, we will be collaborating with IICA to make this institution a center for excellence. We have students coming from across the Caribbean to attend the GSA and study different programmes in agriculture. We’ll also be building a FabLab similar to the one at IICA’s headquarters in Costa Rica. We are also looking to construct a Situation Room; a data center where we can have real-time data not only for Guyana, but the Caribbean so that we can drive this process forward,” Minister Mustapha explained.

Furthermore, he said that the project being launched and the facilities being offered under the project provide a platform for women and youth to not only gain valuable skills and knowledge in climate-smart agricultural technologies but also to become agents of change within their communities.

“By mastering techniques like hydroponics and aquaponics, they will be equipped to cultivate food in a sustainable and efficient manner, even in the face of climate challenges. These cutting-edge technologies are being integrated by the government into the local agriculture system, to increase food production, achieve food security, and reduce our food import bill,” the Minister added.

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, H.E. Mark Berman

 Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, H.E. Mark Berman in his remarks said harnessing climate-smart agricultural practices is more and more necessary than ever for a sustainable future and global food security

“Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce food access, increase food cost, and affect food quality. Changes in precipitation patterns and extreme weather events have led to reduced agricultural productivity which impacts the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Therefore, harnessing climate-smart agricultural practices is more and more necessary than ever for a sustainable future and global food security. In line with our climate finance commitment for climate-smart agriculture food systems Canada continues to deliver programming that focuses on smallholder farmers especially women and youth to help improve their economic resilience and livelihoods through sustainable practices while facilitating access to resources,” Ambassador Berman said.

UNDP’s Resident Representative in Guyana, Gerardo Noto

UNDP’s Resident Representative in Guyana, Mr. Gerardo Noto said the EnGenDER Project has provided important opportunities to advance the regional shared vision on climate change resilience.

“The project made a significant contribution to climate change adaptation through capacity building and the introduction of sustainable agricultural practices incorporating gender equality and human rights through disaster risk reduction and climate response. This particular part of the project was focused on the students of the Guyana School of Agriculture and has helped to introduce the gender-based perspective in climate-smart agriculture. Since the project focuses on both entrepreneurship and income generation it offers another way to advance income-generating opportunities, and spark youth interest,” Mr. Noto explained.

Some of the vertical hydroponic towers that will be used as part of the project

The project, which was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Government of Guyana, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Enabling Gender-responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean” (EnGenDER) project, saw the construction of a greenhouse as well as the establishment of an aquaponics system. Students will be able to utilize climate-smart agricultural techniques such as hydroponics and aquaponics to cultivate leafy vegetables as well as rear various species of fish.