“We have to expand our Agri base inland” – Min. Holder
─ necessary to combat rising sea levels and other threats to coastland
DPI, Guyana, Monday, August 19, 2019
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder, in an interview on the Voice of Guyana (VOG) gave some insight on where agriculture in Guyana should be heading.
“We have to change from our traditional sugar and rice economy to going into soya bean, corn, cattle and that sort of economy with all that that entails.”
Most of the country’s agriculture production comes from the coast, in the form of rice, sugar and now coconut and fishery production has surged. Unfortunately, due to the rising sea levels as a result of climate change, coupled with the fact that our coastland is roughly six feet below sea level, the coast is under great threat to flooding.
This has also affected the rate of drainage along the coast, which is currently one and a half inches in 24 hours. Several pumps have recently been installed on the coast to maintain our current drainage and to improve our drainage co-efficient to three and a half inches as well.
Contrastingly, this approach, while impactful, increases the cost of drainage but does not increase the level of production, which means we are producing the same amount at an increased cost. Minister Holder pointed out that this is not a sustainable approach, and other avenues have to be taken. One such avenue is moving production inland.
“Now moving into the hinterland area or higher ground has other considerations, Guyana is 80% forested and being a signatory to the climate agreement internationally, we are discouraged from clearing forest to plant crops, so we have to conserve our forests. Which means that our expansion in agriculture is largely limited to our Intermediate Savannahs which is behind the coastland and the Rupununi Savannahs in the southern part of the country and that is where our agricultural thrust will be,” he detailed.
Another avenue would be to increase production along the coastland with the opening up of more agricultural lands.