‘Agri’ Minister ‘talks up’ improved drainage, aquaculture
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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha engaging the Japanese Ambassador to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago Tatsuo Hirayama
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha engaging the Japanese Ambassador to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago Tatsuo Hirayama

–during engagement with Japanese Ambassador

THE development of Guyana’s aquaculture industry, and the need for improved drainage and irrigation infrastructure took centre stage during an engagement between Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and non-resident Japanese Ambassador to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, Tatsuo Hirayama on Tuesday.

During the engagement at Minister Mustapha’s Regent Street, Georgetown office, a number of key areas to further develop Guyana’s agriculture sector were discussed, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Minister Mustapha told Ambassador Hirayama that the government, since assuming office, has been working to develop the country’s aquaculture sector.

“A lot more effort is being placed on ensuring sustainable fishing practices are employed, so that our stock can be sustained and eventually increased over time,” the minister related.

He also credited Japan for its many successes within its own aquaculture industry, expressing hope that the Japanese government would be open to offering technical support to develop Guyana’s aquaculture industry.

In his response, Ambassador Hirayama said that he was pleased with the government’s emphasis on agriculture, and underscored the need for countries to conserve their fishing resources by sustainably utilising them.

“Agriculture is indeed an important industry for many countries, including Japan. Food security is one of the most important issues for any country, so I do agree with your government’s emphasis on agriculture, and in our case, fisheries is also important,” the Japanese envoy told Minister Mustapha.

“The sustainable use of marine resources,” he said, “is one of the subjects we have a common interest in. We have to have responsible fishing industries, and conserve fishing resources while utilising the resources in a sustainable manner. In that sense, we have to fight against IUU activities.”

By IUU activities he meant those associated with illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) modes of fishing.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, in its statement, also acknowledged that the recent floods here have exposed the vulnerabilities of Guyana’s agriculture sector, and as a result, the government has placed major emphasis on developing new infrastructure to help mitigate flooding across the country.

While speaking on the devastating impacts of the disaster, Minister Mustapha said that there is a need for additional structures similar to the iconic Hope Canal to be constructed in other vulnerable areas to help mitigate flooding.

“As a result of the last flood,” he said, “a significant percentage of the sector was destroyed. Since then, we’ve been discussing programmes to encourage and facilitate climate-smart agriculture. The government is also working to improve our drainage and irrigation infrastructure.”
He also pointed to the fact that in 2005, Guyana suffered from a lot of flooding, particularly on the East Coast Demerara and Georgetown. It was that devastation that led to the construction of the Hope Canal outfall channel.

“With this recent flood, Georgetown and the East Coast were not as affected as the other parts of the country. We need similar infrastructure so that we can mitigate flooding. Guyana is below sea level so we cannot stop flooding; instead, we have to try to mitigate it,” Minister Mustapha explained.

The two officials also discussed Guyana’s gaining access to Japanese markets, technical support for improving Guyana’s rice industry across the value chain, capacity building for effective water resources management, and technical assistance for improving cattle productivity and dairy farming.

Guyana and Japan have enjoyed diplomatic relations since June 1969. Over the years, the two countries have collaborated in sectors such as health and agriculture.

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