“Guyana’s National Development Pathway aligned to focus on food security, climate change, agriculture financing” – Min. Mustapha
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha said that the Government of Guyana has aligned the country’s National Development Pathway to focus on priority areas such as food security, climate change, and agriculture financing as it works towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2), Zero Hunger.
The minister made this disclosure on Tuesday during a meeting with the Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, and other Agriculture Ministers and officials from across the region.
The hybrid meeting took place in Costa Rica and was hosted by the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) to explore cooperation opportunities, discuss the visions and perspectives for the sector, as well as determine how IICA can assist with achieving the goals set for the sector by Member States in the Caribbean Region.
Minister Mustapha, in his virtual address, spoke about Guyana’s role in CARICOM as it relates to guiding the regional food and nutrition security agenda and how these efforts tie into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); particularly SDG 2.
“The agriculture and food systems sector in Guyana is being repositioned and transformed into an expanded, diversified, modernized, resilient and competitive sector. As we work to achieve the SDGs, particularly SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, Guyana has aligned our National Development Pathway to focus on priority areas such as food security, climate change, and agriculture financing. Moreover, Guyana has emerged as a leader in CARICOM, being the Lead Head with responsibility for Agriculture, Agricultural Diversification, and Food Security within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet. As the Region implements the CARICOM Agri-Food Systems Agenda, Guyana has committed to playing an integral role in fulfilling the goal of reducing CARICOM’s food import bill by 25% by 2025. As we are aware, the Region has a high food import bill which is estimated at approximately US$6B per annum,” he noted.
Minister Mustapha also said that a targeted approach is necessary when addressing food and nutrition security, which he explained, involves the integration of the health, and education sectors along with technology, and climate change mitigation.
“We cannot speak about food and nutrition as if it exists as a standalone in the policy formulation of the different Caribbean countries. There must be a targeted approach to food security that involves the integration of the health, education, and technology sectors, along with climate change mitigation, so that food security can better enable national and regional prosperity. We cannot confront food security and nutritional security without simultaneously confronting climate change, confronting our education system, and health system and confronting sustainable development. To this end, we need the support of our international partners like IICA as we understand and seek to implement initiatives that address the linkages between food production and food security,” he explained.
The minister also said the government has been taking the necessary steps to advance food and nutrition security in the Caribbean. This, he added, is being done through increases in budgetary allocation and collaborations with the private sector to establish the necessary infrastructure to support these efforts.
“Recognizing the importance of implementing initiatives that address food and nutrition security, the Government of Guyana has increased the budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector by a 150% increase, moving from GYD13.3 billion in 2019 to GYD33.2 billion in 2023. We are also working with the private sector so that we can create a state-of-the-art regional food hub in Guyana. It is necessary that we do everything within our capacities to ensure we take the necessary steps to advance food and security in the Caribbean Region,” the minister added.
Guyana has embarked on several initiatives to bridge the production gap which include the diversification from traditional industries, the development of high-yielding, pest-resistant, and climate-resilient crop varieties; and the introduction of improved genetics in livestock.
There have also been several agriculture input support programmes for farmers, such as fertilizer, and seeds distribution exercises. Investments have also been made to upgrade infrastructure to support the agriculture sector such as drainage and irrigation structures, farm-to-market access roads, laboratories, and processing facilities.
The Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA) is the highest governing body of IICA, consisting of thirty-four Member States, fourteen of which are in the Caribbean Region.