Agri Ministry aims for major increase in shrimp production

−Min. Mustapha engages Region Six fisherfolk

In keeping with a directive from His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali to make Guyana’s aquaculture sector globally competitive, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha engaged fisherfolk and residents in Region Six. The Minister listened to their concerns to determine the type of technical and other support that is needed to increase production.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

Speaking at the meeting held at the Albion Community Ground, Minister Mustapha said the Ministry has been mandated to push the development of shrimp, and to move production from 200,000 kilogrammes, to 500,000 kilogrammes annually. Region Six is the largest shrimp producing area in the country.

While outlining the plans for advancing the sector in 2020 and beyond, he said the Ministry will be crafting an aquaculture masterplan that will lead to the development of a sustainable aquaculture sector in Guyana.

“When we look at it, we don’t have an industry right now in our country. We have to develop an aquaculture industry. That means we have to put in a lot of work and we have to ensure we have the necessary funding and we have to ensure also that we have the necessary skilled personnel to develop this industry,” he said.

This fisherman posed a question during the meeting.

Minister Mustapha said the industry is very lucrative and Guyana could tap into markets in the Caribbean and in North and South America.

“Currently, China and India, they are supplying these species to North America. We are positioned in a very strategic geographic position where we can trade with both South and Central America and North America, and with the geographic boundary that we share with many countries, we have an advantage in exporting to North America in real time.”

This year, the sum of $293 million was allocated in the National Budget for the growth of the emerging Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry.

Additionally, the President has set up a committee that will advance plans and programmes to develop aquaculture activities across the country. That committee will comprise technical persons from the Ministry, representatives from the private sector, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) and the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary – Agricultural Development Authority.

Minister Mustapha said he has also written to the Indian Government, through the High Commissioner, for assistance. India has since indicated that it would provide technical assistance.

“They will supply to us the experts from India to come and help us here.  As a matter of fact, they have requested three technical persons and they have agreed. We should have those persons in a matter of months,” he added.

Minister Mustapha said the Ministry is also looking at developing large acres of land to be used for aquaculture development.

Some of the fishermen at the meeting.

The Minister told the residents that while the Government would continue to support the traditional sectors, at the same time, the administration wants to diversify and explore new areas. 

The residents also had the opportunity to raise issues and concerning matters with the Minister. Many of them complained about the smuggling of fish and shrimp from neighbouring Suriname. Minister Mustapha said he is aware of the matter and would be engaging the relevant agencies to tackle the issue.

Additionally, he engaged farmers and residents in Sheet Anchor and Rose Hall.

Minister Mustapha was accompanied by a team of technical personnel from the Fisheries Department, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority, the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute, the National Insurance Scheme, the GL&SC and the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.