Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy has told heads of departments and agencies under the ministry’s purview that he aims to make research and development the focal point of the sector.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release, Ramsammy told several familiarization sesssions that agriculture must not only be seen as growing and supplying food, but delivering high quality food that is safe for consumption and healthy for the population. “Food is not just something to fill the belly, food is an important component in the pursuit of healthy, long productive life…and therefore meeting those needs it would entail us developing and sustaining the new and improved crops and livestock breeds for the supply of a more balanced diet for Guyanese and other consumers,” he said.
Guyana must not only strive to become food sufficient, but to produce the type of food that will help Guyanese to acquire the average daily calories and micro-nutrient needs, he said, adding that he aims to develop the sector to the level where it can contribute more significantly to the economic development of the country. The ministry will be focused on developing farming countrywide where both traditional and non-traditional agricultural communities would be able to tap into the export markets and “thus transform into entrepreneurial activities”.
Ramsammy said he envisions the sector not only as the producer of raw materials but as a genuine industrialised country involved in the production of value-added products. To ensure that this becomes reality, he said the ministry will establish a National Think-Tank involving a wide range of stakeholders from both within and without the sector. He noted that the ministry has already started drafting proposals and terms of reference to establish the committee.
Ramsammy also met with the heads of departments at the Guyana Livestock Deve-lopment Agency (GLDA). He told the staff that the time had come for a change in traditional practices in agriculture and that Guyana should strive to shape its own future. In this regard, he urged GLDA’s managers to explore new and innovative techniques to further advance the livestock industry. “So that work plans for the sector for the next year or three years should be driven by the determination to shape a new destiny for the agricultural sector,” he said.
Against this background, the minister said research and development would be the focal point of the sector and “therefore a number of things would have to happen, including the training of more technical and skilled persons for research and development.” He said that agriculture must be developed to the level where a large number of people can earn a livelihood, develop enterprises and a springboard for national development in Guyana.
GINA noted that Ramsammy also met with Region Six Regional Chairman Zulfikar Mustapha, the members of the Black Bush Water Users Association and visited several locations in the region. He discussed several matters of concern including urgent maintenance and activation of drainage pumps in the Black Bush area.