Rupununi can be backbone of hinterland development – Min. Holder
─ Reg. 9 hosts 3rd Regional Agri Expo
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, October 26, 2019
Agriculture is undoubtedly one of the most important sectors in the Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo Region (Region 9), with close to 4,000 acres of non-traditional crops and a considerable amount of the nation’s cattle. It is home to some of the best examples of agriculture byproducts, agro-processing and agro, -tourism.
On Friday, the region hosted it’s 3rd Regional Agricultural and Commercial Exhibition (RACE) at the Lethem Market. Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder and Minister within the Ministry, Valerie Adams-Yearwood were among government officials at the annual activity that attracts farmers from across the Rupununi Region.
During his feature address, Minister Holder highlighted that the government through his ministry, has prioritised the Agri sector; making it a national development initiative divided into three areas – agriculture development and diversification; development of markets and enterprise; and the development of infrastructure and services in support of economic expansion.
To this end, millions have been invested to push the Rupununi Savannah as a frontier for agriculture development in Guyana. An agriculture station is earmarked for Pirara in Central Rupununi, which will include 20,000 acres of land for promoting the commercial production of corn, soybean a, cassava, peanuts, and development pastures for cattle.
The ministry also adopted the implementation of water harvesting and management technologies and to date, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) constructed 11 harvesting systems in Massara (2), Annai (2), Rupertee (2), Aranaputa (1), Surama (2), Quarrie (1), and St Ignatius (1) which has enabled storage of 2,502,352 gallons of water. Similar facilities are scheduled to be constructed in Kumu and Shulinab for $28Million.
Regarding livestock development, Minister Holder also announced that several households benefitted from the rearing of approximately 5,000 birds, collecting over 2,500 eggs thus far and producing over 1,387.5 kg of black giant poultry meat for local consumption. Pasture development and expansion was also implemented in Aranaputa and Karasabai and the region produced 60,000 kg of beef for the year.
The National Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) continues to play a major role in the development of crops in the Rupununi. This has resulted in the cultivation of onions in St Ignatius, tomatoes in Sand Creek and cabbage in Shulinab. Work was also done with the cassava farmers in Moco Moco and Wowetta. The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) also conducted a demonstration of rice cultivation techniques in Quarrie village. A similar initiative will be conducted in Moco Moco, Aishalton and Massara. Work was also done on marketing and packaging through the Guyana Marketing corporation.
Minister Holder reminded farmers that the RACE is also a very important marketing tool which they can use to network with persons.
“The Rupununi region can be the backbone of Guyana’s hinterland development. This will build a sustainable and resilient economy. Let me reaffirm the ministry of agriculture’s comment in working with our partners to leverage natural capital in Guyana’s Rupununi,” Minister Holder reminded.
In his remarks, Minister Allicock underscored the importance of the agriculture sector to the region’s economic development. He noted that farmers have the potential to create their own niche markets, since the region produces its own organic foods, and is known for its value-added products such as peanut butter and cashew nuts.
“You must be innovative and creative, use your locally produced cassava bread and farine, market them, they have the potential for great returns on your local economy…Agriculture is such a multifaceted sector. It is the key to your development and can play a leading role in bridging the gap between the hinterland and coastland.”
Regional Chairman, Bryan Allicock commended the government for its robust support of the agriculture sector in the region, especially in the areas of drainage and irrigation.
RACE, a brainchild of His Excellency, President David Granger, was introduced to promote agricultural development and to encourage citizens, including those in the hinterland, to better market their products. Local and overseas patrons have the opportunity to view many products produced by farmers within the region at the over one dozen booths. The Ministries of Business and Tourism also participated.