21-year-old among those receiving new leases from Agri. Ministry
– 128 leases issued to farmers to expand production in MMA Scheme
Today the Ministry of Agriculture’s Mahaica Mahaicony Abary–Agriculture Development Authority (MMA–ADA) hosted its annual Open Day activity at its Onverwagt office during which some 128 leases were prepared and issued to farmers from Region Five.
The issuance of leases for lands for agricultural purposes is usually the highlight of the Open Day, which was hosted for the first time in two years due to restrictions brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha while speaking at the event said, since taking office, the government has been steadfast in its efforts to restore the operations within the MMA Scheme. He also said that the government will continue to provide the necessary support to increase production in the area.
“We have to increase production. Our farmers have to make that happen. That is why the government has been making the necessary resources available to farmers. We will ensure the necessary infrastructure are in place and that the necessary resources are given so that you, the farmers, can produce. This is why we are here today; we know that for Guyana to increase production, more lands have to be made available to our farmers. If we continue with these efforts, we will be food secure,” Minister Mustapha said.
The minister also said that the government was working to have more young people involved in the agriculture sector.
“We have to encourage young people to get involved in agriculture. Many young people who have diplomas and degrees in agriculture are not actively involved in the field. We have to change that. This is why the His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali developed a company where hundreds of young people are now involved in the cultivation of high-value crops such as carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Through the Ministry of Agriculture, 300 shade houses will be constructed around the country as part of this project,” he added.
Many farmers who received leases said that they have applied for some time and expressed thanks to the government for putting an end to their wait.
Vevekeanand Ramnarace, a 21-year-old student at the University of Guyana was one of the persons who received leases during the activity. Although he didn’t study agriculture, the young lessee said that he has always had an interest in agriculture, more so rice cultivation due to the fact that he grew up seeing his father in the fields planting rice to take care of the family. He said that he will utilise his two 18-acre plots to plant rice and continue in his farmer’s footsteps.
When the government took office in August 2020, Cabinet approved some $90 million to carry out emergency works on critical infrastructure in the MMA scheme. While speaking on this, Minister Mustapha said the government upon assuming office worked to reverse the unfavourable measures that were implemented by the previous administration.
“We’ve been working to restore this scheme, the MMA Scheme. We’ve worked to ensure it is, once again, viable and able to function effectively. Before this government took office there was a period where we saw a rapid decline in production in the MMA in all the sectors. This was due to the unfavourable conditions and measures that were implemented by the previous government. These systems were not conducive to the development of agriculture in this country. This government under the leadership of His Excellency President Dr. Irfaan Ali recognises the importance of agriculture. We saw and took note of what took place in the world during the pandemic. Many countries had money but were unable to purchase food because of global shortages and import restrictions. Guyana produces 60% of the food we consume but we want to produce more,” he added.