National agriculture strategy launched

Riding on water? A youngster from Beterverwagting taking his bicycle for a spin over a trench (Photo by Arian Browne)

The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday rolled out its national strategy for agriculture, which is intended to be a vehicle for sustained economic and social prosperity.

Minister of Agriculture Dr Leslie Ramsammy launched the 2013-2020 strategy, dubbed “Vision 2020,” at the Ministry’s boardroom, where he explained that among its goals is creating sustained agricultural growth for uplifting standards of Guyanese, the enhanced provision of safe and high quality food for Guyanese and reduced importation for certain staples like onions, potato and milk.

The strategy also seeks to sell agriculture as an attractive source of livelihoods, employment and wealth generation, making Guyana’s agriculture sector will become a choice destination for entrepreneurs

Other aims include creating agriculture for rapid economic growth in an export-oriented country, promote industrialisation through the packaging and processing of agriculture products, and the cultivation of crops as biomass to generate bio-fuel, such as bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.

In the 1960’s, according to Ramsammy, Guyana recognised its strength and focused on a commodity approach, embarking on a “five Cs” agriculture strategy where emphasis was placed on citrus, cassava, coconut, cocoa and cattle. He said another strategy was the “four Ps and B”—pepper, plantain, pineapple pumpkin and beef.

The new strategy, he added, does not abandon the notion of promoting specific products, but instead embraces a more holistic approach for agriculture and creates a support mechanism for the pursuit of wealth generation. “This one continues to adopt an alphabetical approach, so we have moved from the commodity approach to an “F5” strategy” he stated, explaining that there will be a focus on food security, nutritional security, bio-fuel production, the role of agriculture in fashion and medicine and the exploration of opportunities in furniture and craft in agriculture.

Ramsammy also said that the national strategy includes a component entitled “portfolio of infrastructural projects,” and he explained that it is a long term plan for infrastructural investments that will contribute to the overall expansion of agriculture and bring the sector to another level, in terms of its contribution to economic development, as well as to individual wealth generation.

Ramsammy said the “comprehensive” strategy is built firmly on the notion that agriculture will be the lead export in Guyana. He said it is also built on the notion that no country could sustain high importation of food products.

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