Last weekend, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha engaged in discussions with farmers from Cane Grove, Mahaica, at the Virginia Primary School. The dialogue centered on resources that would be critical in boosting agricultural output in the region. Various farmers were present, joined by delegates from the Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Water Users’ Association.
A primary concern among the farmers was the unequal distribution of resources. They expressed that only specific individuals receive the benefits, although all farmers in the vicinity should get them.
The distribution mechanism, they revealed, was based on registration, allows only registered farmers to collect the resources.
In response, Minister Mustapha emphasized the government’s aim to ensure resource equity for all farmers. He mentioned the significance of registration to comprehend the resources required more effectively. He encouraged unity among the farmers for the prosperity of Cane Grove’s agricultural sector and shed light on the nation’s notable growth, attributing it to government investments.
“If we want this community to develop, we have to cooperate. Agriculture is one of the main activities in this area. Only today, President Irfaan Ali spoke about the growth in the country over the last six months. From January to June, the country grew by almost 59.5%. In the non-oil sector, we had almost 13% growth.
“Agriculture is contributing to that growth. The investment we’ve been making has contributed to that. We’ll continue to make those allocations because we want the country to be food secure. We have to change the way we are doing things so I will ensure our extension arm works along with you to empower you to produce more..,” he explained.
Minister Mustapha reassured the farmers of ongoing support, including services like artificial insemination and quality breeding stock. He also addressed drainage concerns, promising collaboration between the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority and the Water Users Association.
“Rest assured, we will continue to work along with you. I just said that for the livestock farmers, we can assist with AI, breeding animals, and poultry. I can make a commitment here that each swine farmer in Cane Grove will receive a pair of swine to increase their flock. Likewise, we can work with the cash crop farmers to make better planting materials available.
“We are also working to see how we can get access to cheaper inputs like fertilizers and chemicals. As it relates to markets, we have the New GMC and we can work with you to get markets for your produce with better prices. I want to make a commitment; that we will work with the most vulnerable set in the community to start the Black Giant programme…,” the minister added.
Additionally, Minister Mustapha discussed the government’s ambitious agricultural plans to reduce the food import bill. He urged the farmers to venture into high-value crops for both local and regional markets.
In the upcoming week, ministry teams will revisit Cane Grove for farmer registration, verification, and canal assessments.
Several ministry officials accompanied Minister Mustapha during this session.