Oct 24, 2020 News
– Minister Mustapha highlights Govt.’s vision to further market and develop agro-processing sector
Kaieteur News – Yesterday Agriculture Ministers from across the Region met Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) to discuss strengthening ties and improving regional agricultural collaborations.
In a Government release it was noted that one of the most notable areas highlighted during the meeting was the need for intensified collaborations among sister states to increase regional import and export of crops and other agricultural commodities. Additionally, the Ministers discussed knowledge sharing to strengthen their marine management systems.
During their discussion, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, spoke about Government’s vision as it relates to marketing and developing Guyana’s agro-processing industry, and the role IICA is expected to play in offering support during the process.
“Our vision is to shift agriculture from primary producer to value-added, to reduce Guyana’s 41 per cent dependence on imports, which translates to a food import bill of GUY$45 billion.
The Minister said they were cognisant of IICA’s role in trade and was seeking its assistance to accelerate a shift towards becoming a more market-led agri-food sector.
To that end, he called on the organisation for assistance in the provision of technology and technical knowledge in the agro-processing industry, specifically, in processing to facilitate training and development for food safety and good manufacturing practices for agro-processors; and assistance with marketing, more specifically social media marketing in terms of assisting with the participation of trade shows and exhibitions locally, regionally and extra-regionally.
Minister Mustapha also mentioned that, through support from IICA, Guyana was able to commence its Dairy Value Chain Study.
“This is fundamental, as we develop this industry, to reduce the importation of dairy and dairy by-products,” he said.
IICA’s Director-General, Manuel Otero, said that agricultural development in the Americas has to be specially focused on the more vulnerable regions like South America and the Caribbean.
“Although I’m not an expert on Caribbean agricultural matters, my attention is concentrated on two issues. The first is related to the urgent need to reduce the food import bill, with emphasis on promoting sustainable food and nutrition security. The other is in relation to climate change, recognising the importance of putting into practice more resilient agricultural practices. For this reason, we have an infrastructure represented by national offices in 14 CARICOM States,” Mr. Otero said.
The participating Ministers of Agriculture also lobbied for greater collaboration in greenhouse production and knowledge sharing as it relates to the coconut value chain.
Suriname’s Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Rabindre Parmessar, said the forum was suitable to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on the productive sectors and the lessons learnt. He further cautioned the Ministers, saying, “We cannot continue with the way we were producing. We have to be strategic in our production going forward.”
Over the years, IICA’s partnership with Guyana has birthed many developmental achievements in the agriculture sector. Some of these include the support for projects which helped Guyana improve the productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector; the strengthening of agriculture’s contribution to the development of rural areas and the well-being of the rural population; and the improvement of agricultural capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change and make better use of natural resources.
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