President David Granger on Saturday said that while Guyana is on the brink of self-sufficiency, the country must, as a matter of priority, achieve total food security.
A release from the Ministry of the Presidency said that the Head of State was at the time delivering the feature address at the commissioning of the Ministry of Social Protection’s Self-Sufficient Agricultural Economic Services Project at the Hugo Chavez Centre at Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
He called on citizens to ensure that this initiative does not become a side-show.
The President said that despite the strides that Guyana has made, much more attention must be paid to the availability and accessibility of wholesome food.
“This is what food security means, the availability of food for all, the accessibility of food to all and acceptability of food for everyone in the country, from babies to young adults to the elderly…we have the climate, we have the land, we have the labour, we have the fresh water, which will enable us to provide food on a large scale,” he said.
Granger said that food production is central to the new `Green State’ trajectory as he issued a call to all Guyanese citizens to make a conscious effort to grow more food. He noted that the Government spends billions of dollars to provide food for institutions such as schools, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, hospitals and the Guyana Prison Service, among others and an initiative such as the one at the Hugo Chavez Centre could be the key for reducing Government’s expenditure in this area.
“This project could be the model for other institutions to follow. There is no reason why the Guyana Prison Service cannot have a model farm like this…Let us look carefully and closely at this model to see whether it could be replicated around Guyana,” the Head of State said.
The President’s sentiments were echoed by Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Reuben Robertson, who said that this initiative is at the core of his organisation’s mandate to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and poverty, which are also the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
In bringing this project to fruition, the Ministry of Social Protection partnered with a number of agencies such as the FAO, the Guyana Livestock Development Authority, the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute, Food for the Poor (Guyana) Incorporated, the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary-Agricultural Development Authority and a number of private sector companies and individuals.
At present, the Economic Centre has three fish ponds with about 2000 fingerlings, a number of pens filled with livestock and poultry including ducks, chicken and sheep and a shade house.