$335M to develop Farm Implement Programme in Regions 1, 8 and 9

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to invest about $335 million this year to develop its Farm Implement Programme in Barima-Waini (Region 1), Potaro-Siparuni (Region 8) and Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), providing much needed aid to hundreds of farmers.

Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha today said the Ministry’s undertakings will further diversify the production base and ensure Guyana’s food security, especially since 2021 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

“We will be purchasing agricultural equipment inclusive of 25 tractors and trailers and 5 tractors with disc ploughs, roam ploughs and seed planters, among others,” the Minister told DPI.  

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

The programme will be enhanced through the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). The agency is receiving some $1.2 billion under the 2021 Budget passed in the National Assembly last Thursday.

And a $139 million Investment Fund is earmarked under the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Development Project (HESADP) to aid 175 investment opportunities in Regions One and Nine.

Close to 500 farmers in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten will benefit from non-cash assistance for planting materials, breeding stock and technical assistance, with approximately $51 million made possible through the Agriculture Sector Development Unit (ASDU).

Minister Mustapha said while the previous government was promoting “Green State Development”, they did little to nothing to promote the use of ‘climate smart’ production. Last year, NAREI invested $15 million in shade-house materials and sprinkler irrigation, which will soon be available for farmers to purchase at a subsidised cost. This will result in the construction of over 100 shade houses this year.

“All agriculture distribution programmes to rural and hinterland communities were halted by the previous government; this significantly affected agricultural development in this country. Since taking office in 2020, we have not only re-started these programmes but we have also revamped them and introduced new ones to ensure that everyone benefits.”

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha distributes seeds to a resident of Mocha

During his outreaches to numerous communities countrywide, Minister Mustapha could be seen distributing seeds to farmers, encouraging them to add more to their cultivation.

Over 5,000 packets of seeds were distributed to small scale farmers after restarting the Seed Distribution Programme in 2020 and there are already plans to distribute a significant amount in 2021 to benefit over 2,000 farmers.

Meanwhile, NAREI also produced and distributed 5,125 packs of Acoushi Ants Bait in 2020 and over 20,000 packs of these will be distributed to over 1,000 farmers in 2021.

Minister Mustapha said this year the National Fogging Programme will be resuscitated and the first areas to benefit include the Canal Polders, Laluni, Linden/Soesdyke Highway, Pauruni, and the Berbice area. The Ministry will be purchasing 10 new fogging machines to improve the programme.

The Fertiliser Distribution programme will also be restarted, the Minister relayed.

During 2020 the majority of local farmers experienced a significant decline in income of approximately 20-50 per cent. COVID-19 added to the multiple challenges faced by the farmers such as flooding and the outbreak of disease and pests.

Despite this, the other crops sector grew by 6.4 per cent in 2020 over 2019 as a direct result of the interventions put forward in the 2020 Emergency Budget. The money allocated to NAREI this year represents a $33 million increase over the 2020 allocation.