Minister Mustapha talks Government's vision to further market & develop agro-processing sector
Earlier today, Agriculture Ministers from across the Region met with Director General of the Inter American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) to discuss strengthening ties and improving Regional agricultural collaborations.
One of the most notable areas highlighted was the need for intensified collaborations among sister states to increase Regional import and export of crops and other agricultural commodities. Additionally, the Ministers discussed knowledge sharing to strengthen their marine management systems.
During their discussion, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha spoke about Government's vision as it relates to marketing and developing Guyana's agro-processing industry, and the role IICA is expected to play in in offering support during the process.
'Our vision is to shift agriculture from primary producer to value-added, to reduce Guyana's 41% dependence on imports, which translates to a Food Import Bill of GUY$45Billion. We are cognizant of IICA's role in trade, and therefore, we ask for your support to accelerate a shift towards becoming a more market-led agri-food sector, to provide the needed technology and technical knowledge in the agro-processing industry, specifically, in processing technology and techniques, to facilitate training and development for Food Safety and good manufacturing practices for agro-processors, and assistance with marketing, more specifically social media marketing in terms of assisting with the participation of trade shows and exhibitions locally, regionally and extra-regionally,' Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also mentioned that, through support from IICA, Guyana was able to commence its Dairy Value Chain Study.
'This is fundamental, as we develop this industry, to reduce the importation of dairy and dairy by-products,' Minister said.
IICA's Director General, Manuel Otero said that agricultural development in the Americas has to be specially focused on the more vulnerable Regions like South America and the Caribbean.
'Although I'm not an expert on Caribbean agricultural matters, my attention is concentrated on two issues. The first is related to the urgent need to reduce the food import bill, with emphasis on promoting sustainable food and nutrition security. The other is in relation to climate change, recognizing the importance of putting into practice more resilient agricultural practices. For this reason, we have an infrastructure represented by national offices in fourteen CARICOM States,' Mr. Otero said.
The participating Ministers of Agriculture also lobbied for greater collaborations in greenhouse production and knowledge sharing as it relates to the coconut value chain.
Suriname's Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Rabindre Parmessar, said that the forum was suitable to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on the productive sectors and the lessons learnt. He further cautioned the Ministers, saying that 'We cannot continue with the way we were producing. We have to be strategic in our production going forward,'
Over the years, IICA's partnership with Guyana has birthed many of developmental achievements in the agriculture sector. Some of these included the support for projects which helped Guyana to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector; the strengthening of agriculture's contribution to the development of rural areas and the well-being of the rural population; the improvement of agricultural capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and make better use of natural resources.