By Devina Samaroo
As the country celebrates agriculture month 2017, national focus has been shifted to cultivate the hinterland as the next major hub for agricultural development and food security.
“The fact that our main agriculture activities are situated in the coastal zone, which is some 6ft below sea level and leaves our people vulnerable, this is one example why hinterland development for food security is a national priority,” Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder said Sunday at the official launch of agriculture month at his Regent Street Office.
Holder said in order to position the hinterland as the next frontier for agriculture, the government has developed a number of policies for 2017 and beyond which will focus on improved infrastructure, development of agricultural demonstration stations and research to enhance hinterland agriculture.
He noted that the Ministry is committed to ensuring there is a more productive, resilient food production system in Guyana.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo in his feature address also underscored the need to expand the agriculture sector and to enhance the quality of local produces. He called for farmers and other players in the sector to look beyond the local market and traditional practices to create value-added products which can be supplied to the world.
“While the theme this year focuses on the hinterland development, we must also balance that with hinterland development not only in terms of traditional agriculture but with new agriculture,” he said.
“Agro-processing (must become) part of the agricultural thrust, new agriculture that focuses on standards (so) that we meet the demands of the market that is growing outside of Guyana,” the Prime Minister said.
Both leaders used the forum to address the effects of climate change on the region’s food security and noted that Guyana should consider itself fortunate to have avoided the hurricanes that caused massive destruction to nearby Caribbean islands. They also called on Guyanese to be conscientious consumers by avoiding food wastes and to play a role in growing more food.
Speaking of all the fruit trees he has in his yard, Nagamootoo encouraged organizers of tree planting exercises to use trees that would produce edibles in order to feed the nation.
According to Nagamootoo, in a country as rich as Guyana in natural resources, no one should ever go hungry.
Agriculture Month is being celebrated under the theme “Food Security and Hinterland Development: Our National Priority” and authorities promised that a number of activities to commemorate the occasion are in the lineup. Two major activities are a national tree day in Mabaruma and the commissioning of a turmeric factory in Hosororo.