Ensuring Food Security

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GUYANA is endowed with abundant natural resources — such as fertile agricultural land, minerals, expansive fishing grounds, forests, water resources, and a talented work force.

The country is in a formidable position to ensure that the Guyanese population is provided with adequate and affordable agricultural products.

Rising global food prices and acute shortages in some countries were observed in 1974. After 34 years, in 2008, this phenomenon again manifested itself.

The causes for food prices’ increases globally are based on many factors. These include an increase in the demand for food, with countries such as China, India, Brazil and Africa each having a rapidly growing population and a greater per capita income.

Also, because of the rapidly escalating price for oil, many food producing countries have diverted agriculture crops, in particular cereals, to the production of cheaper forms of energy, such as bio-fuel.

Then there is the issue of climate change, with floods and dry seasons that impact on production for staple products, such as rice, wheat and corn.

All countries in the world are affected by these and other factors, thus resulting in rising food prices.

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), since its formation and while in Government, was always cognisant of the need to make Guyana the food basket of the Caribbean. Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had expressed Guyana’s willingness to provide its vast agricultural land resources to CARICOM countries under the Jagdeo Initiative, which aimed to significantly reduce the large food import bill of over US$3 billion, and further ensure food security and sustainability in the region.

The Jagdeo Initiative, as the programme is known, provides a blueprint for immediate food production and sustainability.

Dr. Cheddi Jagan also held closely the vision to make Guyana a model country for agricultural production. He advocated and promoted new agriculture schemes such as Black Bush Polder, Tapacuma project, the Greater Canje, and the Mahaica/Mahaicony/ Abary (MMA) projects utilising the Hutchinson Plan for comprehensive drainage and irrigation, with innovative interventions as the needs arise, such as the Hope and Cunia canals.

It is during the time of the PPP administration that the country became a large exporter of rice, sugar and other foods. This country has also reached the MDG in food security, as it also produces abundantly for local consumption. Farmers and consumers are benefiting from the proactive measures and strategic plans which are being implemented.

The future for farmers and others in food production is assured from rapidly increasing incomes and an improved standard of living, and Government is taking all measures to ensure that food on the table is affordable and adequate.