By Naomi Parris
AGRICULTURE Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, on Wednesday, commissioned the Pesticides Toxic Chemicals Control Board’s (PTCCB) first-ever laboratory to conduct quality testing on imported fertilisers and other agro-chemicals. According to the minister, the US$302,000 pesticide and toxic chemical laboratory, which is housed in the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) compound, Mon Repo, East Coast Demerara, will be able to address the concerns of many farmers and other agriculture stakeholders who would have had questions about imported fertilisers. “Since taking office, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of farming communities in many regions and I can clearly tell in those visits, farmers have echoed their concerns about the quality of fertilisers imported and distributed in Guyana,” the minister said.
He added: “This project here today tells us that this is a direct response to the needs of our farmers and the problems they have been faced with over the last few years and today we are addressing one of those concerns.” The new facility, he added, has the capacity to monitor the quality of fertiliser imported in Guyana and will also oversee the storage of fertilisers, pesticides and other toxic chemicals used within the agriculture sector. Minister Mustapha noted that fertilisers are essential to food security, and as such, they must be used properly. Commercial fertilisers, he said, for a long time has only been regulated at the import stage and with the new laboratory, all agro-chemicals will be monitored.
This, he said, will see “the agriculture sector, farmers and sister agencies like the GRDB, all welcome this service now offered by the board. I am pleased to announce that efforts will continue to support capacity building of this laboratory to support food safety in Guyana.”
Additionally, the minister urged all farmers and agencies of the agriculture sector to take advantage of the new facilities that have been made available.
“We are also encouraging the stakeholders across the country to ensure that they come on board with and take the agriculture sector forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, Trecia David, Registrar of PTCCB, said that “In 2017, the bureau of standards would have identified, along with sister agencies in the Ministry of Agriculture, the gap in Guyana where there is no testing for fertilisers, and in 2019, at the level of board, we began chasing down the opportunity to make this a reality for Guyana.”
She added that the establishment of this new facility will see the enhancement of the agriculture sector and its stakeholders.
“Today what we see this activity as is an opportunity for us to support and expand our agriculture sector and to enhance the lives of our farmers out there in the community as well,” she said.
David noted that while this new facility is a great start to the New Year, the board’s work has just only begun and that there are several other projects which it hopes to execute in the months to come. “I also want to highlight that the work of the board does not stop here, there are many other sectors that we support, especially our new oil and gas sector and there are other initiatives that are on the board’s agenda for 2021,” she said.