Gov’t to invest $2 billion in hinterland agriculture
– food security plan to be crafted
Advancing agricultural production in the hinterland has been high on the government’s agenda over the past two years, and by the end of 2022, an injection of more than $2 billion will catapult the sector even further towards achieving food security.
His Excellency, Dr, Mohamed Irfaan Ali made this disclosure as he addressed the opening ceremony of the National Toshaos Council Conference on Monday.
“In agriculture, by the end of this year, we will expend more than $2 billion and what is the goal in agriculture? We must work on making every single hinterland community food secure… and we have begun to make that investment to advance food production,” President Ali stated.
One of the many initiatives embarked on over the past two years, has been the delivery of tractors/trailers and implements to villages to boost agriculture production in hinterland areas.
Some 112 tractors, along with ploughs and harrows were handed over to communities last year by the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, with an additional 71 procured for disbursement before the end of 2022.
Additionally, through the Ministry of Agriculture, more tractors and trailers were also made available for disbursement.
Young people in the respective communities were also trained to operate and maintain the equipment.
“We have listened to you; from the time we started the initiative of giving tractors years ago to communities with very limited budgets and resources… As soon as we came back into power, we embarked on a project to give every single community tractor, trailers,” President Ali stated.
Further, under the Amerindian Affairs’ presidential grant programme, and the Amerindian Investment Fund, communities received capital to embark on agriculture- related economic projects, based on the needs of the respective villages.
Some projects underway include livestock farming, and ginger, cassava, and other cash crops’ production. Apart from training, tools, seeds and chemicals/acoushi ants’ bait were also provided to the villagers.
Hinterland food security plan
Recognising that the hinterland possesses great potential for agricultural development, with vast fertile and arable lands, President Ali stated that a hinterland food security plan must be crafted to guide the development of the sector.
“We are going to invest in research, and development to see what is best for every single community, and you have to help us here at this conference,” he told the Amerindian leaders.
He added, “Let us identify one item that we will work with the government on. Let us identify food security and come up with a hinterland food security plan that we will invest in.”
The President said agricultural production can be done in a sustainable manner, safeguarding the environment. It must also address how the agriculture plan could feed into the school feeding programme, processing, and identifying markets.
Once discussions are completed and projects and initiatives identified, President Ali said the government will work with the people to establish a timeframe on the way forward.
“At the end of it, we have to have buy-in from you the leaders, and from the people. We have to do it [agriculture production] in a sustainable way, we can’t just say no cut and burn, we have to work with you and say what is the appropriate technology we can use to make you food secure.” The President also spoke about the oil and gas industry, and how resources from that sector will be used to develop the hinterland’s agriculture sector. He said the overarching goal is to make the hinterland food secure, while at the same time boost economic empowerment and create jobs.