Food security, poverty reduction a priority for Agri Ministry

The Ministry of Agriculture has hastened its efforts to ensure food security and poverty reduction throughout Guyana.

Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha made this statement Monday when he opened a webinar to discuss ways of investing in agriculture for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

“Increased investment through international co-operation, public and private partnership are encouraged to increase the coverage of public goods and services, particularly in rural communities,” he said.

To this end, the Government has implemented suitable measures and has already allocated $18.4 billion to stimulate the sector. 

General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), Mrs. Ida Sealy-Adams believes that one way to reduce poverty is through agro-processing.

The GMC has, over the years, helped several agro-processors to transform their ideas and dreams into reality. 

Mrs. Sealy-Adams said the GMC will continue to provide training and will focus heavily on product development. 

Meanwhile, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to Guyana, Dr. Gillian Smith said agriculture locally, is way beyond providing a meal and a livelihood since it connects with the world’s agriculture system. 

Dr. Smith said COVID-19 has proven how the global agri-food system is extremely vulnerable. For the nation to achieve zero poverty, there must be coherent policies, she said. 

“If the Ministry of Agriculture has policies for food production that are not coherent with the policies of trade, that are not coherent with the low carbon development strategy, then we are going to run into issues of trying to ensure that we meet our results,” Dr. Smith said.  

Adding to the panel discussion, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Dr. Oudho Homenauth believes that the sector will see tremendous growth in the years to come.  

Dr. Homenauth said there are 28,000 acres of coconut currently under cultivation and production is expected to expand by 1,000 acres annually. 

He said NAREI plans to work closely with farmers to establish their plant nurseries in their regions. This, he said, will help increase production. Emphasis will also be placed on intercropping.  

Chief Technical Officer, Mr. George Jervis said through the flood risk management project, some US $10.6 million was exhausted to execute works including drainage and irrigation, to help persons practising agriculture on the coastal plain. Another US$26 million is to be approved by the World Bank for continued works. 

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