Minister Mustapha engages Cove and John farmers
– says gov’t remains committed to developing agriculture in the community
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring Guyana’s agriculture sector continues to grow despite setbacks caused by the recent flooding during this year’s extended May-June rainy period.
On Thursday, during a meeting with farmers from Cove and John, a village located on the East Coast of Demerara, Minister Mustapha said Guyana’s agriculture is well on its way to recovery given the many incentives the government has extended to farmers who were affected by the recent flood. He also told farmers that they too stand to benefit from the transformative initiatives that will be implemented over the next four years.
“During the flood, our farmers were prevented from planting all the areas this year. Floodwaters have receded in most of the farming areas and the government has already started working to rebuild the sector. Next year, more lands have to be opened up for farmers to extend their cultivation. When we took office the infrastructure in all of the agriculture areas was dilapidated. Since taking office, the ministry has worked to improve the infrastructure in all of the farming communities so that our production can expand and improve. Agriculture in Guyana is now a big business because of the interest this government is placing on developing the sector,” Minister Mustapha said.
Rice farmers in the area told the Minister that while there has been a noticeable improvement in the sector over the last year, there was the need for a drying floor since the one they were using has since closed.
“Minister we need a drying floor because we are really punishing to dry our paddy. We had a private place where we usually dry our paddy but the place was sold and when we dry on tarpaulin the paddy is not germinating,” one farmer said.
Farmers also told the minister that the individual who operates the machine in the area has been stealing fuel that should be used to carryout work in the community.
After listening to the farmers’ issues, Minister Mustapha instructed officials from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to investigate the matter immediately and provide him with a report.
While responding to requests made by farmers for the construction of a drying floor for their paddy, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that if they can identify an available area, the ministry will work with them to facilitate the construction of a drying floor to assist them with drying their paddy.
The Minister advised the farmers to form themselves into a group so that there can be a systematic approach to collaborations between the ministry and the farmers to carry out works needed in the community.
“There is already a Community Development Council (CDC) in the village that is looking after the interest of the residential area. I want farmers to form themselves into a farmers’ group inclusive of cash crop, rice, and livestock farmers. A team from the Ministry will come back to the community next week to help you form the group. That group will also be tasked with helping our officers to monitor the situation in this area,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha said through the NDIA, the machines in the area continue working to ensure farmers benefit from proper drainage and irrigation. Further, he told farmers that come 2022, villagers will benefit from maintenance contracts from the ministry to carry out works on the drains in the community.
“Our budget is almost exhausted now in terms of maintenance works, but in next year’s budget, we’ll make funds available so that maintenance works can be done on the trenches in this area. We’ll give those works to persons in the community. While you’re cleaning the trench for the satisfaction of the farmers, persons who are carrying out these works will be able to earn. We need the farmers to cooperate. You cannot continue to work in isolation because things will not be done properly. The ministry will work with everyone but we need everyone to be honest. If farmers want development in their community, I can assure you that the government will work to bring development to the community,” Minister Mustapha explained.
The Minister committed to having the ministry construct a gate to secure farmers’ rice fields after they voiced their concerns about cattle from neighboring communities destroying their crops.
While explaining Guyana’s role in agriculture in CARICOM, Minister Mustapha noted that there will be many opportunities for them since Guyana is once again playing a leading role in the region. “From last year when we took office to now, more farmers have been coming back into the agriculture sector because they see a future in agriculture. Guyana is now leading the agriculture agenda in CARICOM so there will be a lot of opportunities for you. The government will continue to make the necessary investments so that you can benefit. Our president is very passionate about agriculture in Guyana. He speaks on agriculture in CARICOM and we are leading the Ministerial Taskforce and pushing the agricultural development agenda in the region,” Minister Mustapha said.