Closing statements by Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

On behalf of myself and all the other hard-working staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2021. This year has been a challenging one for all Guyanese but we, as a Government, were able to accomplish a lot since taking office even with the limited resources available.

Over the last five months, the Ministry of Agriculture and its agencies were able to execute a number of developmental initiatives all across the country. During our many community outreaches, drainage and irrigation issues were at the forefront of the challenges faced by residents and farmers alike. With the passage of the 2020 Emergency Budget, the NDIA was able to execute a number of drainage and irrigation works in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, six and Ten. Although most of these works were not a part of our work programme, they were deemed urgent and as a result, relief was brought to all categories of farmers across the country. Rice farmers were able to save thousands of acres of paddy, cash crop farmers were able to have much needed drainage and irrigation for their farms and livestock and poultry farmers were able to have irrigation water for their animals.

Although several Regions on the Coast experienced flooding due to heavy rainfall and the current drainage structure, we were able to offer timely relief in these areas, as well as, post-flood assistance to farmers in the form of planting materials, seeds, fertilisers, animal feed and cleaning and disinfecting agents.

Our fast and proactive approach to dealing with issues faced in the sector re-birthed an interest in agriculture that hasn’t been seen over the past five years. Persons are now encouraged to return to the fields. We’ve even seen a new generation expressing an interest in developing the sector by applying science and technology to farming in order to move away from traditional subsistence farming; something we’ve been advocating for since taking office.

Agencies like NAREI, GLDA, GRDB, MMA-ADA, Hope Estate, PTCCB, GMC and the Hydromet Department to name a few, have become more responsive to the needs of our nation’s farmers. The Government has also invested in the human capital of these agencies by employing more staff to serve as extension officers in areas like Orealla and Siparuta that were without regular extension services.

Further, with the local environment for investment becoming favourable, a number of local and international companies have expressed interest in investing in several agriculture-related initiatives. With new investments coming on stream, more jobs and better opportunities can be guaranteed for our citizens.

Lastly, what can be considered as one of the most outstanding achievements of the Ministry of Agriculture, and by extension the Government of Guyana, is the reopening of three of the closed sugar estates. This undertaking has resulted in many persons being reemployed and communities have once again come alive. Government will continue to support GuySuCo and all the persons who benefit directly and indirectly from the reopening of these estates.

Rest assured, the best is yet to come for Guyana’s agriculture sector, our farmers and all Guyanese.

Once again, let me wish you all the best for the New Year and I look forward to working with you for the betterment of the agriculture sector and our country.

Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P.

Minister of Agriculture