Buxton, Friendship farmers welcome Agri Minister’s plans for drainage, jobs
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha engaged with farmers of the Buxton and Friendship communities on the East Coast Demerara on Tuesday and committed to addressing several of their concerns all aimed at revitalising the sector and creating jobs.
During their first engagement with the Minister on Tuesday, the farmers have since signalled their commitment and promised a fresh approach to agriculture since they have witnessed “much achievements in Guyana” already.
Minister Mustapha’s visit to the area stemmed from an engagement with the Chairman of the Buxton/Friendship Grantees Co-op Society, Mr. Leroy Hamer, on Friday, where he relayed several issues that need to be resolved urgently.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the fieldmen raised concerns about the need for an improved drainage and irrigation system.
Mr. Ronald Roberts, a farmer for several decades, highlighted the urgent need for access to water — a concern he said has been affecting the farmers for years.
Another farmer, Mr. Curt Adams, pleaded for more job opportunities for the youth within the community. He said while the youngsters are willing to consider farming as their livelihood, there is no proper infrastructure nor system in place.
Minister Mustapha pledged to deploy a machine permanently to the area to clean the drains and canals.
“It must not leave until the job is completed […] I want the NDIA, the community and farmers groups along with the other department officer, to work with us to help you [the resident] to get the area clean and developed,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also instructed that the contract for these jobs along with other maintenance responsibilities must go to persons within the area. The groups within the community must supervise the operations and payment will only be approved once the beneficiaries are satisfied, he said.
Minister Mustapha also called for more collaboration among the farmers and the Ministry. He said there is evidence that the interest in agriculture has grown and the Ministry is seeking to introduce coherent policies to foster greater productivity. To this end, small-scale farmers will be assisted in finding markets to sell their produce.
At the close of the exercise, farmers were also provided with seeds to plant.