$1.7B in contracts signed to advance Govt’s agri agenda

The Agriculture Ministry on Monday signed six contracts totalling $1,793,905,190 for several projects across the country to advance the Government’s agricultural agenda.
These included two contracts totalling $1,332,575,112 for the rehabilitation and supervision of one drainage catchment area at Liliendaal and two of the same at Ogle, East Coast Demerara; a $185,000,000 contract for the procurement of 100 tunnel houses, $199,662,358 for the construction of an office and laboratory for the Guyana Food Safety Authority (GFSA), $19,621,960 for the construction of a revetment along Lamaha canal and a $57,045,750 contract for the construction of a drainage structure at Palmyra, Region 3.

Flood risk management
The rehabilitation of the drainage catchment areas falls under the World Bank’s US$26 million financing to support the ongoing Guyana Flood Risk Management Project, which is aimed at improving the drainage in the coastal areas in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), reducing their vulnerability to flooding.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha standing with the group of contractors following the signing on Monday

According to Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, these catchment areas will benefit the entire eastern part of Region Four. “This project…will help the entire…eastern part of Region Four and it will contribute to the easing of flooding in these areas,” Mustapha remarked.
He made reference to the 2021 floods which affected every region in the country, noting that since that national disaster, the Government has made significant investments to improve drainage nationwide.
“Guyana, over the years…we have seen a number of areas that were flooded. In 2005…here in Georgetown and the East Coast would have suffered one of the most serious floods and then in 2021 we would have suffered the most devastating floods in the history of our country. So as a Government, we are very cognisant of the fact that we have to improve our drainage system, over the years we have been doing that. Over the last two and a half years, we have seen a number of pump stations, new pumps, canals, kokers, sluices and other areas…have been rehabilitated. As we are improving the…drainage and irrigation aspect, the flood risk management of our country, we are seeing more and more development especially in the agriculture sector,” he explained.

Agricultural innovation entrepreneurship
Of the $200 million allocated in this year’s budget for the President’s Agricultural Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme (AIEP), a sum of $185 million will be expended for the procurement of 100 tunnel houses. The $185,000,000 contract was awarded to Agrosol for the procurement of these houses, which would be placed in areas across the country, as the Ministry seeks to expand the AIEP programme.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha boasted that his Ministry has received a number of requests from young people who are interested in joining the AIEP.
“I was able to look at a number of requests, coming from young people in various parts of the country where they are interested in…these areas. We are encouraging young people to be…in agriculture, we want [to] make agriculture more modern [and] less labour intensive. I am happy to see the interest being exhibited by young people coming into the agriculture sector,” The Minister shared.
This AIEP, which was launched in January 2022 by President Dr Irfaan Ali in an effort to bolster the agriculture sector, empower youths and create jobs, is fully financed by the Government and participants can earn from the produce they harvest.
The programme currently has some 100 participants. It was previously disclosed that the initiative earned more than $10 million to date, since its launch in January 2022 by President Dr Irfaan Ali.
Interested persons who are between the ages of 18-35 can apply to join this programme via email at [email protected] or contact the team at (592) 608 0527. Additionally, persons outside of Region Four can also write to the Agriculture Minister stating their interest.

Office, laboratory for GFSA
According to Mustapha, the construction of the office and laboratory for the GFSA is very essential for the organisation to carry out its duties.
“This is a very important project because, as Guyana advance, we are now looking at the Food Safety Authority to be housed in one building, and all the regulations must fall under the Guyana Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture has that responsibility,” Mustapha remarked.
The Minister boasted that currently, Guyana is driving the Agri-Food System in the Caribbean, and the entire eastern Caribbean and Caricom are looking forward to that leadership. He added that the Ministry will also be hosting another investment forum in August, so investments can continue coming into the country.