Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy on Tuesday outlined a five-year development plan for the sector, including the use of bio-fuel and agro technology, during a meeting with representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Ramsammy noted that the strategy will also include agro-diversification, water management, infrastructure development and financing mechanisms, the Government Information Agency (GINA) has reported. IDB Decision Chief of the Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management Hector Malarin, said though agriculture remains a key sector, enhanced strategies and programmes are critical. He also pledged to continue collaboration with the government to successfully implement its programmes, GINA said.
Meanwhile, Ramsammy told the meeting that that agriculture is not only about feeding people, since it contributes about 25% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. “I don’t see it as a vehicle for reducing poverty alone, but developing export potential, contributing to the growth and advancement of Guyana to a next level. The sector can also be seen as a bio-fuel source,” he was quoted as saying. Ramsammy noted that the Skeldon sugar factory is already producing electricity while the Wauna Plant in Region One is generating bio-fuel that is currently being used to operate vehicles in the region. GINA added that he called on the major players within the industry to “up the ante” so that the country can avoid the importation of food, allowing it to reach the “high-middle income status.”
Last year the 10-year National Food Security Strategy was launched with the aim of increasing food production.
While the inputs and initiatives by government remain fruitful, Ramsammy stated that assistance from the private sector is also vital if the agriculture sector is to be transformed over the next five years.
While he noted that enhanced drainage and irrigation is also a pre-requisite to the sector’s sustenance, CEO of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority Lionel Wordsworth told the IDB officials that the agency has drafted a plan to mitigate flooding in the Mahaica/ Mahaicony/Abary areas. The plan falls under the NDIA’s master plan, he added, saying that it is expected to improve drainage and irrigation countrywide. “The country is currently 1.4 metres below sea level and to effectively drain water off lands remains a challenge for the NDIA,” he said.