Agri. Minister discusses possible areas for collaboration with Japanese Ambassador

stressed the need for infrastructure to mitigate flooding due to climate change

Japanese Ambassador to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, H.E. Tatsuo Hirayama, on Tuesday paid a courtesy call to Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha at his Regent Street office.

During the meeting, the officials discussed possible areas for collaboration to further develop Guyana’s agriculture sector, more specifically, the aquaculture industry and Guyana’s drainage and irrigation infrastructure.

Minister Mustapha told Ambassador Hirayama that the government, since assuming office, has been working to develop the country’s aquaculture sector.

“We are now developing our aquaculture industry. A lot more effort is being placed on ensuring sustainable fishing practices are employed so that our stock can be sustained and eventually increased over time. With the effect climate change is having around the world, fish stocks are depleting.

“In Guyana, we are working to double production in this industry by 2025. Japan is very skilled in this industry and has had many successes over the years so I hope that your government can offer technical support so that we can further develop our aquaculture industry,” Minister Mustapha said.  

Ambassador Hirayama said he was pleased with the emphasis the government is placing on agriculture in Guyana. He also said it was important for countries to conserve their fishing resources by sustainably utilizing them.

“Agriculture is indeed an important industry for many countries including Japan. Food security is one of the most important issues for any country so I do agree with your government’s emphasis on agriculture, and in our case, fisheries is also important. The sustainable use of marine resources is one of the subjects we have a common interest in. We have to have responsible fishing industries and conserve fishing resources while utilizing the resources in a sustainable manner. In that sense we have to fight against IUU activities,” Ambassador Hirayama said.

The recent flooding has exposed the vulnerabilities of Guyana’s agriculture sector. As a result, the government has placed major emphasis on developing new infrastructure to help mitigate flooding across the country.

While speaking on the impacts the recent flooding had on the agriculture sector, Minister Mustapha said there was a need for structures like the Hope Canal to be constructed in other vulnerable areas to help mitigate flooding.     

“As a result of the last flood, a significant percentage of the sector was destroyed. Since then, we’ve been discussing programmes to encourage and facilitate climate-smart agriculture. The government is also working to improve our drainage and irrigation infrastructure. In 2005, Guyana suffered from a lot of flooding in this part of the country; the East Coast of Demerara and Georgetown. After that, we built the Hope Canal.

“With this recent flood, Georgetown and the East Coast were not as affected as the other parts of the country. We need similar infrastructure so that we can mitigate flooding. Guyana is below sea level so we cannot stop flooding; instead, we have to try to mitigate it,” Minister Mustapha explained.

The two officials also discussed Guyana gaining access to Japanese markets, technical support for improving Guyana’s rice industry across the value chain, capacity building for effective water resources management, and technical assistance for improving cattle productivity and dairy farming.

Guyana and Japan have enjoyed diplomatic relations since June 1969. Over the years, the two countries have collaborated in sectors such as health and agriculture.