The peasant type agriculture that Guyanese farmers have practised over the years has served its purpose by keeping many families out of poverty, but it is time for the country to move towards a more commercial sector that is globally competitive.
This is according to President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was at the time addressing the gathering at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) office in Guyana.
The FAO opened its first office in Guyana, yesterday, despite moves to close many of its other offices around the world because of financial difficulties.
A mini-exhibition highlighting Guyana’s agricultural sector accompanied the FAO office opening.
Addressing the gathering at the Hydromet office in Brickdam, where the FAO office is being accommodated, President Jagdeo said that in order to develop a more commercial agriculture sector, Guyana has to ensure that it adopts the facilities and research techniques as the bigger players in the sector.
This will lead towards the transformation of improved productivity.
He noted that the world’s financial markets are changing so rapidly and are so volatile that ‘they can add trillions of dollars in a second and wipe out trillions in the same period’.
All of this, the Head of State said, although it seems distant from Guyana, will haunt and affect the country in the near future.
At present, the world has seen no great desire, the President said, on their part of the international community to live up to financial pledges which will assist poor countries.
“Just recently, at the June meeting of the FAO, they promised to increase assistance by US$22M to tackle hunger.”
Some 70 percent of the world’s poorest peoples depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
“There has been a neglect of agriculture…we have to get back to the basics…If you want to tackle hunger and want to ensure food security, you cannot do those two things and at the same time neglect agriculture.”
Yesterday, World Food Day was celebrated under the theme, ‘World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy.’
In Guyana, Agriculture month is being celebrated under the theme, ‘Growing more for Food Security.”
United Nations FAO country representative to Guyana, Florita Kentish said the fact that Guyana, the seat of Caricom, has vast agriculture potential for truly large scale commercial agricultural enterprises, among other reasons, led to the decision to have FAO office set up here.
By being positioned in Guyana, she added, FAO will be poised to fully support the country’s national priorities and to work with other development partners in addressing the county’s needs.
The main aim of FAO offices around the world is to assist governments to develop policies, programmes and projects to remove the root causes of hunger and malnutrition; to help them to develop their agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, and to use their environmental and natural resources in a sustainable way.
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