Open more farmlands in regions

Dear Editor,
In one of my recent letters to the press, I mentioned, and once again am going to mention, that “Region 5 is the most productive agricultural region in Guyana”.
And I have no second thoughts about this, because this region is the breadbasket of Guyana. Be it rice, sugar, cash crops, cattle, poultry, or most of the agricultural products that are being consumed on a daily basis, it comes out in bulk from Region 5.
I also mentioned in that very article that since this Government took office, the farmers are back in their farmlands, farming more than what was happening under the previous Government, and that under the APNU(PNC) Government, little or nothing was given to the farmers, but just rises in land rates and D&I charges, land being taken away, etc.
As can be seen today, many farmers have gone back to their farmlands, planting rice and mostly cash crops. Help is being given by this Government in many ways to ensure that the farmers have the necessary tools and know-how, with advice coming from the various Government agricultural agencies on how to care for and protect their crops.
I have visited several villages over the past week, and I am amazed at the sentiments the residents within those villages have for the agricultural sector. Many indicate and show their passion with the zeal to continue farming, and moreover, to extend their farmlands and variety of crops they are planting in months to come.
Almost all of the farmers were high in praise for what the Ministry of Agriculture is doing to ensure that they are being taken care of and given the necessary advice that is much needed. Few farmers are upset for some reason, or mainly because the NDCs are not doing enough to ensure they have water in the drains to take care of their gardens.
Farmers also said that NAREI extension officers need to be more in the fields, and I do agree with them, because those are the officers who have to help those farmers when advice is being sought.
My biggest surprise as I walked through those villages and met with the farmers and residents was that they wanted more lands to be made available to them by a portion or section of Government lands, to extend their farming or to start farming cash crops.
This is what I was waiting to hear, as many said that if the Government makes those lands available, they are ready to go in and start the work in getting the lands where they want them for their various crops. It was a sentiment that I could not shy away from, and I told the farmers that is a very good way in getting more produce on the market.
But if the Government takes up that challenge and makes the lands available, then it will have to be distributed in a fair and transparent manner, not like what took place under the previous APNU(PNC) Government.
I said that to them because I was a part of the previous Government that was standing up for the people of Region 5 no matter race or who they voted for, but I will continue to say that the previous Government was a racial one, and only was about one set or race of people.
I am calling on the residents of this region to take full advantage, and I mean full or all the advantages that you can take, on ensuring you legally occupy lands for farming, and do not just turn up and look at a plot of land and start to farm, because it will be illegal.
I am calling on the Hon. Zulifikar Mustapha, MP, Minister of Agriculture, to have officials of his Ministry explore all the options and see where there are lands available that can be used for cash crop farming, and please start the process to ensure that the people of Region 5 get access to those lands in starting or extending their farms.
I know that the Hon Minister has a clear knowledge as to the many ways in developing agriculture, and I am sure he will ensure that as long as lands are available in this region and can be used for agricultural purposes, he would ensure that those very lands be given to the residents of Region 5, so that we can remain on the top of the other regions as the best agricultural region in Guyana.
I would like to join with the many farmers here in Region 5 to commend the Minister and his team for doing a wonderful job in ensuring that agricultural development stays on top of the agenda, not only in Region 5, but across Guyana.

Abel Seetaram