Agri Ministry opening up more farmlands for rice, other crops
The Ministry of Agriculture is looking to make more farmlands available in Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) and Upper Demerara-Mahaica (Region Ten) in keeping with its objective to expand the sector.
Since taking office in August, Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha has been travelling across the regions to address issues hampering production in farming communities. The availability of land has been a common complaint from farmers, including those who cultivate cash crops and rear livestock.
Minister Mustapha, in his recent interview on DPI’s “The Progress Report” said the Government plans to double its rice production over the next five years and is focused on developing more lands for farmers in the Mahaica-Mahaicony area.
Region Five is the largest rice-producing area in the country. Therefore, to facilitate increased cultivation there, Minister Mustapha has tasked the new Board of the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agriculture Development Authority (MMA-ADA) Scheme “to start the second phase of the MMA scheme, so that we can open up more lands for farmers.”
There are also plans to improve the livestock industry, which will see lands being made available at Ebini.
“There, we want to open up more lands for farmers so that we can improve the cattle industry. We are looking at getting better facilities, for example abattoirs. We want to make abattoirs to an international standard so that we can export our meat, especially beef, to other parts of the world.”
This is particularly important as farmers want to develop the sector, which has started to attract the attention of international investors. Minister Mustapha said the high-level team which visited recently from the United Arab Emirates is interested in investing in the poultry, goat and rice sectors.
To develop the sector, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) is meeting with farmers to improve training. “Right here in Guyana, our livestock farmers they want to develop the sector. I have recently appointed a new Board of Directors and I have charged that Board to work along with the officers of the GLDA to improve our livestock.”
During a recent outreach to Region Ten, Nottinghamshire farmers also raised the issue of the availability of land. Minister Mustapha committed to having the matter addressed by the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited, which was given oversight of lands in that area under the previous administration.
Additionally, at a recent outreach in Region Five, Minister Mustapha told farmers that a Conflict Resolution Committee will be formed to look into land-related issues affecting them. The Committee will be headed by the Former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Cecil Kennard.
“Over the years, I think that a number of people have been manipulating the system in getting land, so what we want to do, we want to straighten out the system. We want the system to work, and people who are deserving must get the land to plant,” the Minister said at that engagement.
This Committee will reduce the period of time such matters take before the courts.
Minister Mustapha said he has also noticed an increased interest in agriculture owing to the policies and measures implemented by the Administration, and the outreaches over the past months.