Inter-agency approach to resolve issues affecting Agriculture in Coomacka

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, January 12, 2018

Residents of Coomacka and surrounding areas were today assured of an inter-agency approach to resolving several difficulties facing agricultural ventures within the Region 10 communities.

At an outreach at the Coomacka Community Centre, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder and team engaged the Region 10 residents, on concerns in relation to drainage and irrigation, pest control and markets for their produce. Responding to these, Minister Holder advised that the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), and the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) will work jointly to provide solutions to the identified problems.

Recognising the importance of Region 10 as a gateway to several interior and hinterland communities, the Minister stressed that with climate change and the threats presented to the nation’s food sources on the coastland, the Government has decided to focus on the development of the Rupununi and the Intermediate Savannahs as new agricultural areas.

“Region 10 becomes a very critical and strategic region because if you think of it, Region 10 is connected to six of the 10 regions of this country. It is also the main area through which anyone moving inland through Guyana has to pass. You must pass through the Linden community to cross the Demerara river to get down to the south, to get to Brazil and other places.”

Minister Holder said Brazil is an important potential market for Guyana. He explained that Manaus, with approximately 2.3M people, is a big area of export production for Brazil that is looking to get their produce to the European and other markets.

“Currently, they have to travel 1,500 miles before a port. Linden is closer and therefore it’s in their interest to export things through Guyana and if they do that there is potential for a deep-water harbour and Linden is identified for that. Apart from the employment they will provide, they will also need supplies so they will import our rice, pork and many things that we will produce,” Minister Holder said

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NAREI, Dr. Oudho Homenauth, outlined the various services available to the region through the agency’s local offices. He stressed the importance of seeking the right advice about the suitability of soils in the area for crop cultivation.

Meanwhile, Head of the GLDA, Nigel Cumberbatch shared information on the opportunities available for livestock production in the region.

“Given the kinds of livestock we have, I’m sure in a couple of years we can say to the mining camps that we can supply the quality of meat they currently import or purchase from Georgetown.”

Referencing the ‘Topigs 40,’ swine breed imported by the Guyana Swine Producers’ Association with aid from the Ministry of Communities, Cumberbatch committed to having regional livestock personnel work with farmers to aid their swine and other production.

“Our livestock people can arrange for you to see the breeds imported so that you can improve production and supply the region with the quantities they need from right here. We are prepared to make our technical support available so that you can first be self-sufficient then focus on the markets further afield. I think there is potential to do better in this community.”

In addition, the GLDA head noted that the nearby Coomacka Primary School was not conducting agriculture practicals and promised to present the school with 100 chickens and feed, with the understanding that the school will be responsible for building the chicken coop. This offer was readily accepted by the Community Development Council Chairman, Dexter Harding and residents present.

General Manager of GMC, Ida Sealey-Adams, encouraged the residents to become suppliers within their own communities and replace those suppliers who come from other areas to sell agricultural produce.

“The fact that persons are coming from outside the region to sell at least twice weekly suggests there’s a market. That’s an opportunity for some of you to source your supplies from local farmers and market it in a similar manner to those coming from afar. I advise you, however, to do value-added through processing and be competitive. Look at the moringa (sijan) lemon… Semi-processed things like jams and jellies from Chrysobalanus icaco (fat pork or coco plum) and other locally available things,” Sealey-Adams said.

She advised the residents to form themselves into groups so as to attract as much help as available. “Small Business Bureau (SBB) is providing opportunities. We will guide you through the process. Let’s start at home… less blue icicles, what about the fruit juices?… Let’s start mastering what we are good at doing in the region.”

She further encouraged, “When you band yourselves together you can lock in markets because clients look for reliability and consistency from suppliers. We have to eat and once prices are competitive and supply is steady you can be successful in supplying the miners, hospital and other institutions in this region. Look for the competitive advantage and form yourselves into groups to capitalise on the opportunities available.”

Head of the NDIA, Frederick Flatts informed the residents that the agency has been working within the communities and has so far identified the many existing problems, completed designs to be implemented and are currently awaiting funding to execute the works. He further stated that the NDIA remains in the region and is committed to working with residents on a continuing basis.

Flatts encouraged participants to reclaim their communities from visiting salesmen and reduce their dependency on trucks and vans coming from outside the region to sell agricultural produce.

The Minister and his team of specialists also took a tour of Coomacka to look at sites for prospective development works.

By: Kidackie Amsterdam and Stephon Gabriel

 

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