Govt commits to helping riverine communities transport & market agri produce – Pres Ali

– says Demerara River will return to days of prolific agri-trade

President Dr. Irfaan Ali meeting residents of Sand Hills, Upper Demerara River

The Dr Irfaan Ali-led Government has committed to helping communities along the Demerara River not only to transport their goods, but also in their actual agricultural production and in finding markets for their produce.
During a visit on Saturday to Sand Hill Village, Upper Demerara River, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who was accompanied by several Government ministers, assured residents that Government is committed to helping them achieve their agricultural potential. He also spoke of helping them to establish an agro-type eco-tourism product that would cater to visitors. This is particularly important, since the community is close to available markets and that can have tremendous potential for that community.

A section of the gathering

“One of the things that we have to do in this community is to get the Ministry of Tourism to come and work with you in establishing a facility — that small, boutique-type of facility that is high-value,” the President said. “So, we have to work, especially with the young people and women in this community, in setting up such a facility, that is driven by solar energy, that is sustained by its own food production. So, when visitors come, they get a total experience — agro-type of eco-tourism.”
President Ali has urged those residents to give these plans some consideration and work with the Ministry of Agriculture. “What we have to do is to build these farms out, where we help you with the capital investment of drainage and land preparation, and then, as a community, you take care of the 60 acres. And then you fix the cost for that product at a competitive price, that the processors can also have value for,” he detailed.
The Head of State also laid out the Government’s plans to enhance the transportation system for produce along the Demerara River…plans that include the purchase of boats that can transport the agricultural products of the residents.
“For the Demerara River, there are four communities I’m visiting today: Sand Hills, Low Wood, Dora, and Susanna’s Rust, and then I’m going to Linden. So, for the Demerara River, what we want to do also is to look at these cargo boats like the snapper-style boats that can carry large amounts of cargo,
and to see whether we can invest in two of those boats for the river. And then you guys can maintain the boats. So, all you have to do as the farmers is ensure that you work on the maintenance of the boats,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha explained that Government would help the farmers to find markets, among other things.
“We will help you. We will ensure and give you the necessary support. And the most important thing, when you produce these things, you have to find markets for them, and that we are working with the farmers to get markets,” he explained.
“The New GMC. So, you don’t have one item or one component coming to you from the Ministry of Agriculture; we have an all-round. Every single thing, we help you to give you the necessary resources. We help you by teaching you to have best practices. When you produce it also, we find markets for your produce,” the minister explained.
Assistance would also be provided when it comes to agricultural implements such as tillers, though he acknowledged that the rollout of this assistance still has to be planned. However, he assured that, just like in previous times when large quantities of products like plantains and bananas used to be exported from communities in the Demerara River, those days would return under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government. (G-3)