5,000 acres marked for wheat production in Rupununi
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AS Guyana continues to advance local and regional food security, some 5000 acres of land in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) has been earmarked for wheat production.
Speaking exclusively with the Guyana Chronicle on the subject, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, said the initiative here will commence by the end of this month. Back in May, Guyana received 49 lines of wheat from the Government of Mexico to start a trial phase.

“By the end of July, we will start a trial of 5000 acres of wheat in Region Nine, and I am very optimistic that [it] will be successful,” Minister Mustapha said, adding: “Once that is successful then Guyana will do it on a larger scale first to produce our own wheat and then produce for the [Caribbean] Region.”

Following up on what he called an already successful indoor trial, Mustapha said there are other trials ongoing which utilise wheat from the 49 lines of wheat provided by Mexico.
The indoor trial, which explored several varieties, was completed at the Burma Rice Station in Mahaicony, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). Minister Mustapha said he was optimistic that the outdoor trial, too, will be a success.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister said Brazil could also be a supplier of wheat aiding in Guyana’s trial and production.
“We had discussions with the Brazilians and they want to help us also. So, I am going there to meet with them soon,” Mustapha said.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

Wheat prices have skyrocketed globally. To ease the negative economic impact felt locally, President, Dr Irfaan Ali, in March, had announced that Guyana is exploring the possibility of sourcing a variety of wheat for local production.

The surge in wheat and other commodity prices is as a result of a number of global factors including the war in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine account for approximately 30 per cent of the world’s traded wheat.
“Soon, we are going to work to see whether we can find a variety of wheat that we can plant in Guyana, so that we can fulfill even our local requirement,” President Ali had said earlier this year. “We are learning important lessons now that we must not leave unanswered for future generations,” His Excellency noted.

The Guyanese Head of State lamented that both the COVID-19 pandemic and the war have led to supply-chain disruptions, which have major economic implications.
The pandemic, in some instances, has increased the cost of goods and services between 20 and 145 per cent, while the increased cost of logistics, primarily shipping, has caused increases in food prices by as much as 200 per cent.

Meanwhile speaking about the objective of the wheat trials in a previous interview, Minister Mustapha said the aim is to have Guyana become self-sufficient by removing dependence on imports.
He said: “We are very determined! And as long as the trial is successful, we will be going to produce our own wheat because we can’t depend too much on imports… [A]s a country, we have to ensure that we produce our own food and be self-sufficient.”

He acknowledged that the pandemic played a major role in the epiphany.
“We can have all the money in the world and we would have seen during the pandemic how many countries were suffering to get food because there was a scarcity,” Mustapha reflected. “And in Guyana, we are very fortunate that we produce most of the food that we consume,” he continued.

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