APNU+AFC had no coherent agriculture policy -says Min. Mustapha

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, says the Agriculture Ministry had no coherent policy under the APNU+AFC, and this was obvious from the mismanagement and low performance of the sector.

The Ministry now has a considerable task to reform all of its departments, a challenge the Minister says he is prepared to tackle.  

“What I found is that they were just policy to put more burden on the farmers and other stakeholders within the sector,” Minister Mustapha told DPI in a recent interview.

As it is now, the Ministry has to start afresh.  

“Every one of the officers who are working at the Ministry was doing things thinking that it is correct. But there was no guidance nor leadership at the Ministry,” the Minister added.  

He said the infrastructure for farmers had deteriorated and major canals had not been cleaned for years. Even at the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA), while land rental was increased from $1000 to $15,000 per acres, no extensive work was done. The PPP/C Government expended some $92 million for emergency works at the location. Additional sums were also spent to assist farmers in transporting their produce from the backlands.

The Ministry is now working to re-establish its partnership with farmers. 

“The trust is not there because they are saying that the previous Government was only making commitment and promises, and they were not delivering. When I visited and spoke to farmers about our new measures, they believe these may not come through because of their previous experience,” the Agriculture Minister said. 

Since assuming office nearly three months ago, Minister Mustapha has reached out to most agriculture regions to engage farmers. He has also put effort into remedying challenges plaguing the farming society. 

Some $18.4 billion was allocated in Emergency Budget 2020 to revitalise the agriculture sector. 

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