May 15, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday participated in a virtual dialogue with Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina; and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s (IICA) Director General, Dr. Manuel Otero to discuss collaboration to improve the local agriculture sector.
Other officials from IICA, Guyana and Brazil also participated in the forum. During the discourse, officials discussed several areas of collaboration to develop different aspects of the agriculture sector in both countries, technical cooperation, investment in infrastructure to support agricultural expansion, human resources, and partnerships between companies from both countries.
Minister Mustapha said the engagement was both timely and important. He told officials that the recent amendment to the Partial Scope Agreement augurs well for Guyana’s plans to increase rice production and tap into new markets by 2025.
“This is a very important engagement for us as we anticipate continued collaborations with Brazil and IICA to further develop our agriculture sector. We are at a critical point in terms of developing our agriculture sector and our overall economy. Over the last eight months, government has made a lot of progress in terms of realigning Guyana’s agriculture. Over the years, Guyana and Brazil have enjoyed an excellent relationship in trade and agriculture development,” he said.
Minister Mustapha also noted that recently the amendments to the Partial Scope Agreement have enabled both countries to benefit from more trade links between them.
“We are looking to expand these ties while also looking to develop new areas of technical cooperation. Guyana is pleased with the recent advances made in the Partial Scope Agreement, that has increased our supply quota from 10,000 tonnes to 34,000 tonnes of rice to Brazil. This augurs well for us in terms of increasing our production and tapping into new markets for our produce,” he said.
Minister Mustapha further noted that the Government is investing in establishing road linkages between Georgetown, and Lethem.
“A lot of effort is also being put into establishing the road linkage from Georgetown to Lethem. With Government’s intention to develop a deep-water harbour, persons travelling from Northern Brazil will be able to use that deep-water harbour to effectively export their produce. Rather than having to use the Pacific Coast, they can use the Atlantic Coast and export their produce in two days,” the Minister said.
As for Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Christina, the official said that the deep-water harbour was important as it would assist both countries, more so Brazil, with exports and trade in the Region.
“In terms of investment, we believe that the deep-water harbour is very important and would assist greatly with getting both Guyanese and Brazilian products into the Region. I am also aware that there are issues with the highway connecting our northern states. For our exports to take place in substantial volumes, it would be good for those conditions to be improved.
I think that this is something that we could discuss with our Minister of Infrastructure in Brazil and with our Ambassador, and have a meeting to discuss these constraints. We have several businesses from the agricultural and soya bean sector in Brazil that would like to invest in Roraima and it would be crucial to have this corridor to send that production through your harbour,” Minister Christina said.
The Brazilian Agriculture Minister also said that developing a sound strategy to exterminate the carambola fruit fly was high on her Ministry’s agenda.
“These efforts started in 2011 in Guyana, Brazil, and Suriname. We need to work with integrated actions to establish some form of surveillance so that we can eradicate these insects. It is very important for us to revisit those conversations and work with our technical teams to establish some level of priorities,” Minister Christina said.
Minister Mustapha said that Guyana is also committed to developing a long-term strategy to control and eradicate the pest. He said the Ministry, through the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute has been working with organisations like IICA and other Brazilian experts to host workshops geared at sensitising farmers about the pest.
Furthermore, the Minister said that Government will continue to work to rid the country of the pest as it hinders exportation of fruits and some vegetables.
Minister Mustapha also expressed gratitude to IICA for its continued support and technical assistance in key areas of agricultural development in both nations.
Meanwhile, in his address, IICA’s Director General said that both Brazil and Guyana are agriculture-producing countries. He also said over the years, Brazil has developed into one of the most important countries in agriculture in terms of production and trade, and that Guyana is poised to become a great producer of food, not only for the Caribbean but for the rest of the world.
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