Since the revelations beginning with those made by the Ethiopian-born biologist Dr.
We will have to wait and see just how the promise articulated in a CARICOM Secretariat statement earlier this week that Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) from September 4th- 8th, 2021 will be a “unique, game-changing event” will ‘pan out.’
Guyana’s Amerindian communities will be hoping that President Irfaan Ali’s undertaking that the country’s ‘first people’ and their largely forest-based communities will benefit equally from the returns from the country’s oil and gas industry goes beyond the repetitive political promises, to actually improve the quality of their lives, which, half a century and a bit more after political independence, have gone, overwhelmingly, unfulfilled.
For now at least, we must accept as made public, information provided by Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (G-Invest) Dr Peter Ramsaroop and reported by the Department of Public Information (DPI) not just that “the government has held talks with members of the diaspora in Texas and Florida, USA on the roles they could play in Guyana’s development” but also that “many overseas-based Guyanese have expressed a desire to return home.”
At a forum associated with the recent visit to Guyana by President Santokhi of Suriname, both Minister in the Office of the President Dr Ashni Singh, and Suriname’s Foreign Minister, Albert Ramdin, reportedly expressed the view that, over time, Guyana and Suriname had failed to make good, the advantage of proximity to raise the profile of their bilateral relations in fields that include cross-country investment and other forms of business and economic cooperation.
The national jollification associated with the public disclosure of our May 2015 ‘first oil’ and the several others that have followed had dragged on for some time though there are indications that it is beginning to occur to us that ‘all that glitters is not gold’ and that after the confirmed oil discoveries and the commencement of oil recovery and sales there are some challenging, even unpalatable realities that we ignore at our peril. There are the well-known environmental considerations that cause oil-producing countries to become targets for probing enthusiasts who continue to make incremental inroads in their relentless battle to push back fossil fuel recovery and the environmental considerations that derive therefrom.
There is some measure of public concern over how our oil resources are being managed.
Even as the respective countries in the Caribbean continue to take their own separate tilts at bemoaning what they regard as the distressing state in which much of the region’s agricultural sector finds itself, there still appears to be no discernable region-wide move to respond to what is regarded as a looming crisis.
The blanket of uncertainty that continues to hover over occasional interventions that seek to reassure that there is some reasonable time frame to the lifespan of the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to occupy more room in the psyche of the international community.
It is not the Stabroek Business’ impression that the recent engagement between President Irfaan Ali and representatives of the private sector would have taken full account of the particular concerns of micro and small businesses even though this does not necessarily suggest that there is not, somewhere in the pipeline, some plan that will unfold, sooner rather than later, for the President to engage, eyeball to eyeball (figuratively speaking, of course) with some representative group from the thousands of small businesses across the country, many if not most of which share common problems that require common solutions.
There are several challenges, both short and longer term that accrue to the agriculture sector in the wake of the floods that are still affecting significant areas of the country at this time.
The twin factors of climate change and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on labour loss and its implications for the agricultural sector are among the primary factors that now bring the issue of food security in the Caribbean into ever sharper focus.
Last Tuesday’s media release issued by the Guyana Manufacturers’ & Services Associaion (GMSA) on the subject of the proliferation of illegal “food, drugs and cosmetics” into Guyana goes to the heart of a considerable challenge which the country has had to face over many years.
A cursory glance at the Stabroek Business’ editorial focus over the past year or so will reveal that much of our reporting has targeted the issue of the fate of small and micro businesses in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as early as a few weeks ago it seemed likely that the floods which, official reports suggest, have now reached proportions of a crisis sufficiently severe as to warrant an appeal for international help, could escalate beyond the control of the country’s fragile response capabilities.
Now in its fifth year of ‘operation,’ following the passage in the National Assembly of the Food Safety Bill of 2016, not a great deal has been publicly disseminated about the work of the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) nor has the agency benefitted from the kind of reporting that draws pointed attention to those undertakings in which it engages and the outcomes thereof.
Just a few weeks ago a farming cooperative in the Mocha/Arcadia community executed two Farmers’ Markets over a relatively short period.
In the course of the recent engagement between Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana Mark Berman during which – as reported in this issue of the Stabroek Business – the two talked up possibilities for the strengthening of relations between the two countries, Minister Mustapha, who is the serving Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force for advancing the agriculture agenda of the region, reportedly alluded to the current focus of the Task Force on producing a document on food security highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each member state, for submission to CARICOM Heads.
This is not the first occasion on which the Stabroek Business has made a pointed editorial comment on Guyana’s failure, up until now, to take any sort of initiative to speak of, to mark the United Nations-designated International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).
Not many moons ago a pronouncement by a high official of government seeking to ‘sell’ Guyana’s preparedness to pay serious attention to expressions of interest by potential overseas investors would have been likely to encounter a healthy measure of skepticism.