Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud and contractors signed eight contracts valued $567.7 million for projects aimed at boosting drainage and maintaining food security in the agriculture sector.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release contracts were signed for the rehabilitation of the Cane Grove Diesel Pump Station by General Engineering Supplies and Services, at a cost of $53.6 million; for supplementary drainage works for East Black Bush Polder – construction of sea sluice cum pump station – by Horizon Electrical Associates and General Construction Company, at a cost of $349.8 million; for the construction of an access road to the Rice Seed Facility at Number 56 Village, Corentyne by Colin Talbot Contracting Services, at a cost of $38.4 million and for the building of a quarantine post at St Ignatius by Alvin Chowramootoo Construction Services, at a cost of $7.1 million.
A contract was also inked for the construction of a quarantine post at Mabura by Kurt Cumberbatch, at a cost of $6.7 million; for consultancy services for training for a Gas Chromatograph coupled with Mass Spectrometry and Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry by Trinidad and Tobago’s Western Scientific Company Limited valued $2.8 million; for the supply, delivery, installation and testing of laboratory equipment, reagents and chemicals for NAREI (Biological and Tissue Culture Laboratories) and Government Analyst- Food and Drugs Department by the same company, valued $58.7 million and for the supply, delivery and installation of laboratory equipment for the NAREI Seed, Germplasm, plant diagnostic and Soil Chemistry/Microbiology Laboratories by IPA Health Care, valued $50.3 million. “The projects are funded by the Government of Guyana with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)” GINA said.
The minister told the meeting that government is embarking on a number of projects “Because we are living in a changing agricultural environment, globally and nationally.”
He noted that a US$21 million investment is also being made to diversify agriculture in Guyana in the sugar and rice industries, with fruits and vegetables, livestock and aquaculture named as key sub-sectors that will be developed eventually. “These deliverables amongst other projects are intended to accelerate that process,” Persaud said.
According to GINA the supply of laboratory equipment at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will boost its capacity to provide the latest scientific support to the agricultural sector in both livestock and crop farming. “The second aspect of these projects addresses the weaknesses we have had in terms of drainage and irrigation as well as access, with the reality of climate change. We have to take what we consider climate smart approach to agriculture,” the minister noted. He also acknowledged that the ministry had rehabilitated the station at Cane Grove but engineers have noted that the design must be changed in order to drain the Mahaica Creek and prevent flooding in the area.
Persaud said too an independent channel that will drain water directly into the sea from the East Black Bush Polder area will be addressed in order to ensure that proper drainage is in place for the entire area and lessen the chances of farmers experiencing flooding.