‘Guyana is a food-secure nation’ – Min. Holder

― agricultural production being bolstered in the hinterland

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

During an interview on the Voice of Guyana’s (VOG) radio programme ‘INSIGHT’, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder drove home a critical point as it relates to food security in Guyana.

The minister was at the time answering a question on upscaling farmers from small-scale commercial farming to a larger commercial-scale to ensure that there is self-sustainability as it relates to food.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder on VOG’S radio programme ‘INSIGHT’.

“Guyana is a food-secure country this country does not really need to import food for our wellbeing, as a matter of fact, we are self-sufficient in beef, poultry, so we are part way there, it’s [now] a question of expanding it.”

Guyana does not set prices on the international market but instead settles for the current market prices. Minister Holder expounded that the challenge facing the agriculture sector does not lie with feeding the nation, but with finding markets for the excess foods produced by the country.

Many countries have regulations on residual chemicals on produce, which is why the recently constructed Pesticides and Toxic chemicals laboratory is critical to our agricultural export sector.

“You see what we are facing as a nation, certainly as an exporting country, is increasingly the world is looking at food safety in a very serious way. And pesticide residues can prevent our produce from getting into markets abroad, so we need to be able to monitor what are the residues left.”

Minister Holder also outlined some of the work being done in the hinterland to allow for more significant agricultural development in the region.

“Regarding Region 9, the government is developing and facilitating a favourable environment for developing its water resources. The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has instituted a systematic approach to the development of the rainwater and surface water resources through improving water storage capacity for the availability of irrigation and drinking water which will have a greater impact on cattle rearing and livelihoods of residents while simultaneously increasing agricultural activities and production.”

To this end, the NDIA has already constructed 12 water harvesting systems, three in Massara, two in Annai (central), two in Rupertee, one in Aranaputa valley, two in Surama (North Rupununi and Turtle Savannah), one in Quarrie and one in Saint Ignatius. Thus far, this has contributed to more than nine million litres of water sourced for 2019.

While the focus in the hinterland region is on irrigation, on the coast, the focus is on drainage since the Low Coastal Plan is below sea level.