Guyana’s agri sector remains on top, despite challenges

Dear Editor,
No one could stop anyone from penning an article to the media, but those who are writing must present facts to the public; they must bring the truth.
It seems, however, that some are hell-bent on lies and misinformation, which fully support the rhetoric of the Opposition APNU-AFC.
I always say that before one can look at the present development in any sector, one must look at the past, and I will again go back to the bitter and bleak years for agriculture under the present Opposition when they were in Government from the years 2015-2020.
Before the APNU-AFC took office in 2015, they had known it all as to how to develop Guyana. But let me talk about agriculture, because it was the votes from the areas within the agriculture sector that gave the AFC the upper hand to ensure that the PNC got into government (APNU is basically the PNC).
After the coalition took office in 2015, we saw a rapid decline in all the agriculture sub-sectors. We saw they increased taxes on agricultural products and machinery, land and D&I charges for rice farmers; and little or nothing was done to better cash crops; nothing to better the fishing sector; cattle farmers were struggling to gain access to lands; livestock farmers were left alone (except for the piggeries within the PNC areas).
Further, there was hardly any work to better the drainage and irrigation system in Guyana; nothing to better agriculture in the hinterland; sugar was going to be put to rest, etc.
Community outreaches within the various sectors of the Agriculture Ministry were at a standstill. Former Minister Holder was never seen on the ground, except when raising the rates and taxes on farmers.
Moreover, during those five-plus years in office (don’t forget the attempted rigging months in office), the entire Caricom was looking down on Guyana when it came to agriculture, because nothing was done, and we were considered the food basket of the Caribbean but yet were not trying to secure food for our nation.
I am going to say, as I have been mentioning in several articles before, that the entire PNC government’s aim and objective was to cripple the agriculture sector of this country; because they had no vision, and were hard of hearing as to how to better agriculture.
When the PPP/C took office in late 2020, I was looking on for a few weeks as to what they were going to do differently to improve agriculture for Guyanese. I was wondering if the appointed minister would be the same as the former minister in this ministry. I was wondering if the appointed minister is on a thank-you walkabout within the regions to meet the PPP/C supporters just after the elections.
And boom, there goes a shockwave in the entire agriculture sector. I attended several community meetings where the minister and his teams visited across Regions Five and Six, and not a lengthy thank you was given to the supporters, but the minister was down to work. He was finding out from those in the agriculture sector what was affecting them, and how he and his ministry could work to better their situation. Not only was the minister there, but so also were almost all of his technical staff and sub-agency heads (which Holder never did). I applauded the minister and the Government from then for their work, especially in the agriculture sector.
Months after taking office, President Ali’s government brought back the much-needed pride and praise for Guyana, as he took charge of agriculture in Caricom, and has taken the lead in ensuring that agriculture stays on top of the Caricom agenda and Guyana becomes food secure, not only for the benefit of locals, but the entire Caricom and afar.
Locally, we saw cash crops being taken to a different level, and many farmers are more involved. This is a sector that we all depend on daily to survive, and with the present input by this Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, we are seeing what we could not have seen in the days of the PNC; and that is food security for our nation.
The leadership of the Agriculture Ministry by the Hon Zulfikar Mustapha, MP, is far more open, and he is bolder in his approach to better the sectors within his ministry, with more than 99.5 per cent of work than what was done by the former AFC minister at this stage in office.
Guyana is presently faced with prolonged dry weather, and we all know that everything depends on water for growth, and yet farmers are not backing down, but are investing more. Why? Because they see the works and input daily by the ministry officials on the ground.
Complaints are being looked into; as a matter of fact, as soon as a complaint is brought to the attention of those in authority, it is looked into. This never happened under Holder’s watch, because, before he acted as a minister, the PNC authoritarians had to be informed, then make a decision, and pass it on for Holder to act.
The agriculture sector is rising more than we can all expect, and because of that, some Opposition supporters who pen letters are ashamed and are trying to cover up their bleak past in this sector.
Despite the weather pattern and the many challenges being faced in this sector, the agriculture sector remains on top, and I must commend the leadership of Minister Mustapha, but moreover must give kudos to His Excellency President Ali for his strong and visionary leadership, especially towards this sector.
Guyana will remain on top of the Caribbean on food security in many years to come under the PPP/C Government.

Yours respectfully,
Abel Seetaram