Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday revealed that there is an apparent decrease in the prices of fruits and vegetables and he credited this to several interventions by the government to assist farmers in producing more crops and teaching them about sustainable farming.
Food prices skyrocketed over the past few weeks and were linked to challenges such as flooding, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis.
But specifically, cash crop farmers suffered major losses due to unprecedented flooding during the period April to June in 2021. This resulted in a scarcity of fruits and vegetables and an increase in prices.
“A survey was done and we are seeing the prices for fruits and vegetables are going down and this is as a result of the intervention we have made in the Ministry of Agriculture in giving people seeds, facilitating them to help them do best practices, have our extensive officers more effective and more organised to give people better guidance,” Mustapha told reporters at the side lines of an event at the Lusignan Community Ground, East Coast Demerara on Wednesday.
Thousands of farmers also received cash grants from the government to help with their losses.
“As a matter of fact, we have done a lot of canals and drainage works over the last year because we encountered severe flooding and we are trying to mitigate flooding as quickly as possible so that the farmers can have proper facilities.
“We are going to see more crops being produced…the food industry in Guyana is in for a good time,” Mustapha revealed.
The government is aiming to make the agriculture sector sustainable and more resilient to withstand shocks seen last year as a result of climate change.
Over the last 18 months, the sector grew tremendously, the Agriculture Minister posited.
“I think we have never seen such interest in the agriculture sector, we are seeing more people coming to invest, more crops are being produced, we are seeing more diversification in the agriculture sector.”
Meanwhile, the government is also working on a new comprehensive strategy that will tackle the Caribbean’s expensive food import bill and help guarantee the region’s food security.
Already, the government has set aside a sum of $5 billion in the 2022 National Budget to fund interventions to cushion the rising cost of living.