The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute Bill 2010 was yesterday tabled and passed in the National Assembly.
This Bill, it was contended, intends to “promote greater efficiency in the crops and agricultural product industry and to provide enhanced services in Agricultural Research and Crop Protection and to establish the National Agricultural Research And Extension Institute, so as to make provision for effective administration and regulation of trade, commerce and export of crops and agricultural products and for matters related or incidental.
It also provides for the repeal of the National Agricultural Research Institute of Guyana Act 1984.”
The Bill effectively established a body to be called the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute. The functions of the Institute shall be to provide a series of important services.
Firstly, the Institute will advise on, and develop appropriate systems to promote balanced, diversified and sustained agricultural development and optimize agricultural production through adaptive investigative research.
It will also facilitate the use of improved production technology by, and establish adequate feedback systems from, agricultural producers in order to achieve and maintain national self sufficiency and export capacity in food and fibre.
This Institute will provide adequate quarantine services to enable the exportation and important of plants and plant products and other regulated articles, to reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of exotic plant pests.
This new body will seek to deliver quality extension services to farmers, providing advice on the transfer of technology acquired through research operation and will facilitate the easy transfer of technology to farmers.
The new Legislation allows the Institute to provide and have farmers access approved genetic materials to be used in upgrading agricultural production based on market demands and consumer preferences.
Also, the Institute will regulate the importation and exportation of genetic materials for agricultural cultivation and development, including live plants, tissue cultures, seeds and other materials.
According to the Bill, the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute will assist farmers to develop cost effective and sustainable agricultural production systems through the use of appropriate and market-driven technologies.
The growing of crops will be regulated and post-harvest handling and care of agricultural produce, including agro processing, encouraged according to acceptable international standards.
Moreover, this new entity will ensure compliance with the World Trade Organization’s agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures and the full implementation of the International Plant Protection Convention, by authorizing the Crop Protection Programme Advisory Committee to discharge such functions and perform such duties.
This Research-oriented body will carry out applied agricultural research, including research into appropriate systems of mechanization, to provide answers to current and foreseeable problems facing crop and forestry production. In addition, the Institute will determine, develop and popularize mechanisms, programmes and activities by which the agricultural potential of Guyana may be realized.
According to the Bill, all discoveries and inventions made by the Institute or by any of its officers or other employees or agents in the course of the performance of its functions under this Act, shall be the property of the Institute and shall vest in the Board, and the Board may make any such discovery or invention available to the public on such conditions and subject to the payment of such fees or royalties as the Board may think fit.
The Institute will, according to the Bill, work closely with all other agencies and institutions engaged in agricultural and related research.
Regarding the funding of this Institute, there shall be established a Fund to be known as the National Agricultural and Extension Institute Fund which shall vest in the Institute and shall be utilized by it to meet expenses in connection with its duties and functions under this Act including salaries, remuneration or allowance of any Director, Chief Executive Officer, secretary, advisers, experts, consultants, officers and employees of the Institute.
The Fund shall consist of monies made available from the Consolidated Fund, investment and loans received from the Government, charges for the management of any task and financial assistance received from national or international agencies or organizations.
The Governing Board of the Institute will comprise thirteen directors who shall represent the Government and interest groups and shall be persons qualified for such appointment as having had experience of, and shown capacity in, such matters which the Ministers considers will be beneficial to the functioning of the Board, in particular, in matters relating to agricultural research, extension and crop protection.
It was revealed that the chairman of the Board shall be appointed by the Minister from among the directors.
The functions of the board shall be to (a) advice the Minister on matters of policy relating to agricultural research, extension and crop protection; (b) to supervise and control the functioning and activities of the Institute; (c) to ensure that the activities of the Institute are consistent with the policy and objectives of the Government, and the national priorities, relating to agriculture, agricultural research, extension and crop protection; (d) to approve, oversee and evaluate on a continuing basis the programmes being implemented by the Institute and; (e) to give general and technical advice and guidance to the Chief Executive Officer.
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