Agri. Minister calls on private sector to ‘buy local’

(Photo: Minister Zulfikar Mustapha interacting with farmers)

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha is calling on the private sector to buy more local products and reduce their reliance on imports of similar products. In his statement to launch Agriculture Month 2021, he noted that “as a country, we are importing too many commodities that can be produced locally.”

He further added that transforming the agri-food system will require significantly greater public financing as well as private capital from national, regional, and international partners.

While the Government of Guyana is committed to transforming the sector, the Minister said international support, institutions and bilateral partners will be critical to ensuring a more resilient agricultural sector through financing, technology, and creating an enabling environment.

Guyana is moving towards becoming an oil-based economy but he assured that agriculture will remain a key sector in the economy through four goals which surrounds building a diversified and competitive industry, addressing the impacts of climate change and improving markets access.

Agriculture Month is being observed under the theme “Transforming our Food Systems: Achieving Food and Nutrition Security.”

Minister Mustapha in his statement said this theme is quite appropriate given the dire need to change our agriculture and food system so that it addresses the many food security challenges encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020 and then the unprecedented floods in May/June 2021.

Recognising the contributions of farmers, fisherfolks, agri-businesses and others who toil to provide food, the Minister said the sector has suffered from the economic shock caused by COVID-19 and the floods of May-June. Over 27,000 crops and livestock farmers and households were affected and to assist, the Ministry has commenced distribution of food-relief cash grants to help those affected return to the land. In addition, the Ministry will be assisting with genetic improvements, drainage and irrigation works, technical support, planting materials, and extension services

The highlight of the month’s activities is the World Food Day celebration in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture on October 16, under the theme “Our Actions are Our Future. Better Production. Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better life.”

The majority of the activities will be held virtually or limited to small gatherings in regional outreaches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.