During a series of meetings with farmers from Kwakwani last Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha pledged the government’s support to restore agriculture in the communities.
Several farmers who engaged the minister indicated that they are passionate about agriculture and the government’s investments but were in need of assistance to take their production to the next level.
One farmer present said that her farm is constantly under attack by Acoushi ants and cattle that are owned by other farmers in the community.
Another farmer told the minister of her interest in agro-processing. She explained that after selling her produce, the surplus is often dumped because she has no market for them and would like to learn how to produce soaps and other commodities.
While responding to farmers, Minister Mustapha said that a programme has been implemented where farmers from hinterland communities are now able to benefit from free Acoushi ant bait.
“This programme has been in place since I became Minister of Agriculture and you will also benefit. I will also make ten bongo pumps and chemicals available to the community to assist with managing the Acoushi ants. You will also receive planting materials to assist with expanding your cultivation,” he said.
While addressing concerns raised by farmers about roaming cattle in the community, Minister Mustapha said that the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) will work with the community to develop proper housing facilities.
“We want to develop the cattle industry but this cannot be to the detriment of the other sectors. So, through the GLDA, we’ll identify and develop 100 acres for cattle in the community. We’ll fence it so that the cattle cannot go into your farms and destroy your crops,” said Mustapha.
He said too that very soon, officers from the New Guyana Marketing Corporation will visit to do training. He said they will also assist with finding markets for crops and agro-processed products.
Minister Mustapha also said that assistance will be given to the Agricultural Science Department at the Kwakwani Secondary School.
“I’m happy to see so many students in attendance. This shows that young people are excited about agriculture. So, to help those writing CSEC exams, we’ll donate a shadehouse to the school’s agri. science department…We’ll also donate six piglets to the school from the GLDA,” he added.
Farmers seeking financial assistance were encouraged to submit applications to the Small Business Bureau so that they can access grants to expand their farms. Minister Mustapha also promised to engage officials from the Demerara Bank to see how services can be extended to the community.
Farmers present at the meeting also received seeds, chemicals, gardening tools, and other agricultural inputs. Teams from the various agencies are expected to return to deliver on commitments made by the minister in the coming weeks.