What are our national objectives in relation to agricultural research and why can’t the ministry liaise with CARDI?

Dear Editor,

Julian Giddings of CMC’s Carib Vision of Monday, 7 October 2013, must be forgiven for assuming in his interview with our Minister of Agriculture, that the good ‘doctor’ knew anything substantive about his subject. The latter, as is his wont, could be heard by those who know better, uttering as many superficialities about Guyana’s agriculture, as he did about agriculture in the Caricom Region.

Clearly at a loss when questioned about Guyana’s relationship with the Caribbean Agricultural Development Institute (CARDI), from which the country had separated itself about fifteen years ago.  (Incidentally, not long after this administration took office it engineered the transfer of the resident CARDI representative (one Fletcher). He was subsequently replaced by a Trinidadian, before eventually the latter’s special project ‒ CRIDNET – which concentrated on rice, came to an end.) The Minister’s response of not wanting ‘to personalise’ the reasons for Guyana’s withdrawal from CARDI reflected an ignorance of the relevant facts, which overspilled into inanity.

Following up, the interviewee was remarkably unspecific about our national objectives in relation to agricultural research, but insisted that CARDI ‘must do more’ – without reference as to how the regional research institution could be relevant to, for example, our own national research and extension activities.

It is uncertain whether, and when, the Minister has read any recent report coming out of CARDI; but it would indeed be useful if he would acquaint himself, as urgently as possible, with its structure and operational methodologies, so that he could arrange for appropriate liaison between the national and regional entities, and the coordination of their respective work programmes.

In the meantime it would be instructive to learn from the Minister, who spoke effusively about the size of funds invested in local agriculture, of the progress being made, for example, in the various projects being pursued by the Guyana Livestock Development Authority and to what extent any of them could benefit from collaboration with CARDI.

All the while the Jagdeo Initiative was completely ignored.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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