Agri Minister engages Berbice farmers, fishermen
-desilting drainage channels, dam upgrades for Manchester
– Chesney/Albion access dam to be upgraded
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday engaged residents of Manchester, Albion and Hogs Town, Berbice and would be working to solve issues affecting farmers in those areas.
While speaking to residents, Minister Mustapha noted the importance of the agriculture sector in Guyana’s development and reassured them that the Government remains committed to expanding the sector as this will create jobs, wealth and food security.
“We in the Ministry of Agriculture, we are only interested to improve the infrastructure so that farmers can plant, farmers can produce, so that whenever farmers produce, they will create wealth for our country,” he said.
The Minister also noted the massive investment the Government has made in the sector since August to rehabilitate neglected infrastructure and reduce production costs for farmers.
He added that farmers need to increase production, not only to meet needs in the domestic market, but to tap into new ones. To this end, work is being done to double production over the next five years.
“That is why we will continue to enhance this sector. We will continue to put critical funds in this sector. We will ensure that we develop this sector so that we can tap into the markets in the Caribbean,” Minister Mustapha said.
During the outreach, farmers raised several concerns with the Minister. One farmer complained that he was denied vaccination for his livestock. Minister Mustapha said the Regional Agriculture Coordinator and agriculture extension officers in the Region need to be more accountable.
“We as a Government we, are procuring and putting money to the needs of the farmers and sometimes it’s not meeting the farmers. We have to ensure that we have a check and balance mechanism and these officers have to be more accountable,” he said.
The Minister said officers must be out in the fields every day across the Regions.
“We will meet once again this week and they will come with a programme. We have to know now where these officers are working and we have to have a check and balance so that we can check with the farmers. Whenever they say they visit a particular farmer we must have that checked to know that those works are being done,” Minister Mustapha said.
He also committed to conducting desilting works in the Manchester area and upgrading dams in about two weeks’ time. The Minister also said once an assessment is done to determine the extent of the intervention needed, work will begin.
“Remember, we can’t do all the work together, but I’m thinking about leaving a machine in this area to do all the work so that you can have all the work done.”
Minister Mustapha is adamant that farmers should monitor the works being conducted in order to ensure that it is done properly.
“I want both the regional chair and vice chair to ensure that the farmers must sign off on the certificates before payments are made on the dams,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Chesney/Albion, Minister Mustapha committed to undertaking works on an access dam after fishermen complained that it was challenging transporting their engines via the dam.
Mr. Veeram Ramsarran is one of more than 100 fishermen who will benefit. “We are thankful for the Minister to take the time out to visit us to hear our concern and we are hopeful as he promised, we are gonna get our issue resolve. We are very thankful because we at Albion here, for the longest while, we aren’t getting help,” he told DPI.
Another Berbice resident, Mr. Salim Edu also praised the Government for being proactive in solving problems affecting people. “This Government a listen to people and do whatsoever them need. Them ah help them out so it’s very good. I must say thanks to the President and everybody, the ministers them in Guyana.”
The visit to Berbice is the latest in a series of outreaches the Agriculture Minister is conducting across the country.