Guyana to receive expert assistance in agriculture sector – Mustapha
…as India offers support for sugar, rice & hemp industries
Guyana will be receiving expert level assistance from overseas in a number of areas throughout the agriculture sector, including in sugar, rice and hemp. This is according to Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha.
In an exclusive interview with this publication, Mustapha said that help from India would not be limited to the sugar industry, but rather will be extended to these other industries. In fact, he noted that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Guyana to receive this technical assistance will be signed soon.
“Not only in sugar but a number of areas in the agricultural sector, we’ll receive help for. We know for a fact an MoU will be signed shortly. For example, we’ll start very shortly planting hemp. We might have a specialist coming from India. In the rice industry we’re looking at them to help us in tissue culture.”
“We know that our nursery that we have cannot keep up with the needs. Although we are always trying to upgrade it, I think tissue culture is one of the important aspects where we can cater for the needs of expanding production in the agriculture sector,” Mustapha said.
Tissue culture refers to the cultivation of plant cells under controlled circumstances, in some cases allowing a plant to be regenerated from a single cell. When it comes to the sugar industry, the Minister further emphasized that this is in addition to the help Guatemala is expected to provide.
“In the sugar industry we’re looking also and we’re looking to get better yield canes so that we can plant those in Guyana. And we know that Guatemala also has told us that they can help us improve the sugar industry,” the Minister added.
Government’s focus on agriculture is down to the vision of making Guyana the bread basket of the Caribbean and reducing the regional food import bill. Last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali had declared that his Government would be pursuing an aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade and that in the next four years, with the assistance of more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent.
It was reported last month that member states of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have collectively achieved a significant 57 per cent of the target set to realise “Vision 25 by 2025”. This announcement was made during the first Caricom Ministerial Task Force (MTF) on Food Production and Food Security meeting for 2023.
A statement from the Agriculture Ministry stated that countries submitted reports detailing their production data for 2022 for targeted commodities, as Caricom moves towards lowering the regional import bill by 25 per cent by the year 2025.
It was reported that products such as cocoa, dairy, meat, root crops, fruits, and poultry have already reached 96.13 per cent, 84.36 per cent, 72.28 per cent, 70.91 per cent, 70.77 per cent and 70.19 per cent, respectively, for the targeted production volume set for 2025.
Moreover, countries such as Guyana, Belize, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Dominica, and Jamaica have made significant advances in the production of commodities such as ginger, turmeric, corn, soya bean, root crops, fruits, cocoa, poultry, meat, fish, table eggs, and dairy.
The report also indicated that for 2022, Guyana produced some 20,195 metric tonnes of ginger and turmeric, 144,289 metric tonnes of root crops, 21,870 metric tonnes of fish, and 40,749 metric tonnes of coconut. (G3)