-as Government moves aggressively to roll out President Ali’s agriculture and food security initiative
Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, July 27, 2022: During a simple hand-over ceremony in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Boardroom today, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh handed over more than $75M in agricultural equipment and materials to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of President Irfaan Ali’s agriculture and food security initiative in Guyana and this country’s lead role in the sector in the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Region.
The items handed over included shade mesh, plain wire, mist blowers, shade house plastic and mesh, knapsack sprayers, water pumps, fertilizers, garden hoses, cutlass files, spades, brush cutters, wheel barrows, gloves, shovels, water cans as well as over 12,500 coconut seedlings and 20,200 fruits and ground provision seedlings. These are expected to be distributed to farmers in various regions across the country.
While handing over the materials and equipment Minister Singh pointed out that the distribution of the items countrywide, which will ultimately be done by the Agriculture Ministry, forms part of the much larger initiative that Government is rolling out to address the advancement of agriculture and food security and which is being led by President Ali, supported by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha.
“It would be recalled that upon President Ali’s assumption of office in August 2020, Guyana very shortly thereafter resumed our role as holding the agriculture portfolio in the CARICOM /Quasi Cabinet arrangement, meaning that we are now the lead country on agriculture and food security matters, and President Ali has been advancing this Caribbean agenda for food security in a very aggressive way… to the extent in fact that coming out of the recent Summit of the Americas, where a special committee was established,” Dr. Singh explained. He noted too that the items also represent a significant contribution as part of the initiative of the United States /CARICOM committee which was established to address food security.
“Guyana has been identified in fact to Co-Chair the committee that is addressing food security and the Foreign Secretary is Co-Chairing the committee -The US/CARICOM Food security committee. But apart from the discussions and the work that we are doing to address food security at a macro level, at the national, regional and international level, agriculture and food production go to the core of the well-being of our communities,” the Finance Minister reiterated reminding those at the ceremony that agriculture has historically been the mainstay of Guyana’s economy with tens of thousands of families deriving their economic livelihood from the sector.
Receiving the items on behalf of his Ministry, Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha thanked Dr. Singh and the Ministry of Finance as well as the Basic Needs Trust Fund for bringing into the Ministry of Agriculture the much valuable equipment and materials.
“This will help us to implement the programmes that the Government is rolling out throughout the country and is testimony to the government’s commitment,” Minister Mustapha underscored.
The Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) programme is one of its key instruments for addressing poverty reduction in the Caribbean region. The programme provides access to basic public services through the provision of social and economic infrastructure and the development of skills to enhance employability, community management and engagement. The programme targets the reduced incidence of economic and social vulnerability among the poorest populations in participating countries.
The BNTF programme in Guyana is jointly funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Guyana. BNTF’s Implementing Agency (IA) Guyana began receiving Country Project grants from the Caribbean Development Bank’s Third Programme (BNTF 3) in 1993 and has continued to benefit. For approximately twenty-seven years, the BNTF IA, a Project under the Ministry of Finance, has been implementing projects across the length and breadth of Guyana. The main objective was, and still is, to contribute to poverty-reduction in targeted communities by implementing infrastructure and human capacity development projects. From its inception to date, BNTF Guyana has implemented 612 sub- projects. An estimated 52,283 persons directly benefitted from the projects delivered including 22,355 men and 31,079 women.
The BNTF in Guyana in recent times has made significant contributions to the Agriculture Sector with investments in excess of 380 million dollars. Some of its projects include:
(1) The Guyana School of Agriculture’s Agro-processing and Training Facility in Region 2, which when operationalized, will expose students to the requirements of commercial food processing operations and the techniques required for the development of new products and demonstrating to students, food processing as a viable business.
(2) Construction and equipping of a modern agro-processing and packaging facility at NAREI. The facility will be equipped with a pulp processing and tea line, to support value-added agricultural production. Training was also provided to 100 farmers and 20 extension officers in good agricultural practices and post harvesting techniques.
(3) A small scaled poultry facility within the Matarkai sub-region. The facility will not only help to meet the local poultry demands but also provide jobs for people in the community.
Under the BNTF, 31 shade houses have been constructed in partnership with community farming groups, NGOs and schools in regions 1,2,3,4,5,6,9 and 10. Training was also provided with support from partners IICA and NAREI.