Agriculture sector has survived and progressed

Dear Editor,
The agriculture sector has survived the worst period ever in the annals of our country, and this is not only because of the implementation of sound economic policies, but can be directly attributed to the incomparable leadership qualities of the subject Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha. His ability to be decisive; make high-quality and tough decisions on the spot; his visionary and inspirational leadership; his passionate and creative manner in executing decisions; his approachable and humble characteristics, all allow him to have a free flow of information from stakeholders, whom he contacts in his daily outreaches and which he effectively utilizes for their benefit and ultimately that of the nation.
This is a far cry from the Coalition’s Agriculture Minister, and there is no comparison, only contrast. It is an undeniable fact that the Coalition woefully and willfully neglected the entire sector; there was no will for its survival, and the only plausible reason was to exact vengeance on the sector, which, since the days of the PNC of old, made little investments and their only objective was to ‘milk’ the sector dry to enrich those affiliated to the party. This approach was more evident in rice and sugar.
In rice, the farmers had to fend for themselves, and when the Coalition took over in 2015, they ensured that steep rates and taxes and lack of investments in roads and infrastructure made farming impossible. It was deemed to be private business by the Coalition. This speaks volumes of the clandestine intent of the Coalition, which was laid bare. Each and every year under the Coalition, the sector had to suffer billions in budget cuts, making it virtually impossible for the sector to progress.
Sugar was marked for special treatment under the Coalition. According to Ramjattan and Nagamootoo, the industry was the bottomless ‘dark hole’ and the sugar workers were the ‘raiders of the Treasury’.
The Coalition thought it was better to make a surgical dismemberment of the sugar industry, which would make it impossible for it to survive; and during its second term in office (the planned rigging would have ensured this), the complete dismemberment would have been accomplished and the death knell of the industry would have been sounded. The sufferings of over 7,000 sugar workers are well documented, and their only crime was supporting the PPP/C. The Coalition, having willfully destroyed the industry, would then have ample justification for its closure.
This cannot be denied, since the handiwork of the Coalition in destroying the cultivations and factories even in the remaining three grinding estates is still glaring for all to see. Canes can only come from the cultivations, and when thousands of hectares were wantonly abandoned, where would these canes have materialized from? When the factories are debilitated and in dire need of repair, where will the available canes be ground?
This Government has invested billions of dollars to rehabilitate and resuscitate the cultivations and the factories, and Rose Hall Estate is the symbol of what this Government is capable of accomplishing and how the subject minister can steer his sector to achieve this monumental success. Soon all the fields will be machine-friendly and production will climb astronomically. Soon the cost of production will be drastically reduced and viability will return to GuySuCo; and soon ‘the cup will run over’.
The agriculture sector survived the willful and malicious assault from the Coalition for 5 long years. The bombardment was relentless and unceasing, and it was only the PPP/C as a strong Opposition and Dr Jagdeo as an exemplary leader that gave hope to those in the sector. It was the promises of a bright future which kept hope alive in the breasts of all Guyanese, especially the promises to reverse all the wrongs of the Coalition, which devastated the economy, and to reopen the closed estates.
As soon as the PPP/C took office, these promises materialized. However, this Government has had to deal with other challenges as well. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and presented severe challenges not only to the financial resources, but the human capital had to be safeguarded. This had a negative impact on the agriculture sector, but through sound socio-economic policies it survived.
But this was not all. When it rains it pours, and this literally happened in 2021, when a state of emergency had to be declared. Again, the Government team and the minister went to every nook and cranny to help communities combat the great deluge. Here again, the ineptitude of the Coalition and the dire neglect of the sector was exposed, and billions had to be spent to save not only the agriculture sector, but the entire nation.
Again, the sector survived
from the devastation meted out by the Coalition, from the dire consequences of the COVID-19, and from the destructive floods in 2021 to now. Since 2023, there has been El Nino – the most severe drought for a long time – but the minister has never failed to take up the gauntlet. In 2021 and thereafter, he ensured that flooding would be something of the past, and has since worked assiduously to ensure adequate irrigation to every area affected by the drought.
Since the dry spell began, the Ministry of Agriculture ensured that no expense is spared in saving the crops and livestock, thereby protecting the livelihood of the nation. Billions are again being expended to achieve this, yet the Coalition is blind to see where the monies are going, and their spurious and vexatious presentations during the Budget debate can only be surmised as willful ignorance. They failed to do what this Government has achieved so successfully.
I am sure that, in the latter half of this year, the agriculture sector will attain tremendous success and will reap the benefits of all its sagacious, insightful and wise investments. Agriculture will always survive under this Government, and its manifold benefits will have far reaching positive effects not only on Guyana, but on the Caribbean as well.

Yours sincerely,
Haseef Yusuf