Region Nine ‘agri’ output to increase
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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

–following distribution of key inputs to farmers across 16 villages under new programme

THE Ministry of Agriculture, on Saturday, launched its Agriculture Improved Support Programme aimed at offering critical support to hinterland villages to boost agricultural production.

The programme is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development under the ministry’s Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Development (HESAD) Project.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha launched the programme at St. Ignatius, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), during a ceremony which saw farmers from approximately 16 villages benefitting from $22 million worth of agricultural inputs and genetic improvement material.

Minister Mustapha, while offering remarks at the exercise, said that the government remains committed to ensuring farmers in every part of the country benefit from the resources available.

He said that the inputs being delivered resulted from a commitment made by President, Dr. Irfaan Ali during an outreach to the region last August.

“The President came to Region Nine to ensure we develop this very important sector. He met with the farmers and listened to their needs. He made several commitments and today we are here to deliver on those commitments because when this government makes a commitment, we always deliver on it. The agriculture sector is the only sector that can ensure a country has food security.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, along with farmers from several villages in Region Nine

“As a government, we are aiming to be a net exporter of food and become the centre of production in this part of the hemisphere, especially in the Caribbean. We believe that Region Nine has the potential to produce more and make a valuable contribution to our national production goals,” Minister Mustapha said.

He added that the government was working to make the necessary resources available to enable farmers to boost production in hopes of one day satisfying local and regional demands for agro-processed commodities and high-value crops.

“Food security is high on the government’s agenda, so we are working to ensure you have the necessary inputs to produce. We want you to be able to produce more than what you are producing now. As a government, we are working to diversify and expand to be able to satisfy local and regional demands for agro-processed commodities and high-value crops. We are also making the necessary facilities available to increase the value of your products,” Mustapha said.

Last August, President Ali, while in the region, said officers from the Agriculture Ministry would be working with communities to develop their food security strategies in a way that will make their food production both resilient and sustainable.

“We are working with many communities in Region Nine to enhance your food production system, to build your capacity, and to build your food production system in a more structured and market-oriented way. To improve the conditions under which we do farming and many communities across the region are embracing this new push in terms of agricultural expansion and food security,” the Head of State said.

Farmers from the villages of Shulinab, Meriwau, Sandcreek, Awarenau, Mururanau, Rupanau, Katoonarib, Baitoon, Potarinau, Quiko, Parikwarinau, Aishalton, Shea, Baitoon, Taushida and Koshebai (South Pakaraimas) benefitted from breeding bulls and boars to improve their villages’ genetic material; cassava sticks; coconut seedlings; shadehouse materials; a tractor and implements which included a cassava planter, harrow, a disc plough and a roam plough, as well as an ATV.

The ministry also signed a contract with the Sand Creek Village Council valued at $4 million for the implementation of a cassava germplasm bank and the supply of farm tools support for the region. (Ministry of Agriculture)

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