Mustapha encourages planting of root crops, promises to find markets

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Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha while meeting with riverine farmers in Region Seven (Cuyuni – Mazaruni) on Wednesday encouraged them to produce root crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes and promised to secure markets for the staples and their byproducts.

During the meeting held at the Bartica Community Center Ground, Mustapha told the farmers that a ready market exists as there is demand for root crops in several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states.

He disclosed that during his visit in May last to Barbados with President Dr. Irfaan Ali for the country’s National Agricultural Exhibition – Agro Fest – many interests were expressed in accessing cassava flour.

He told the farmers that not only will the government work along with them to develop a processing facility in the region, but the government will also help to package their products and sell them.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha engaging a farmer in Bartica (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/June 22, 2022)

“We can provide cassava mills and help the farmers. The ministry has made similar interventions in Region Nine where about 50 cassava mills were donated to villages to produce cassava flour,” he was quoted as saying in a press release from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Markets, he said, will be secured through the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (New GMC).

During the meeting, which was a follow-up to the recent visit by President Ali to Bartica earlier this month, the farmers raised several issues such as the need for farm-to-market roads and better drainage to minimize flooding.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha addressing farmers in Bartica, Region Seven (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/June 22, 2022)

The farmers also indicated that they would need assistance with farm implements such as tillers as well as agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, tools, and Acoushi ants bait.

Mustapha promised that five bongo pumps and a motorized fogging machine will be made available while two tillers, monitored by a management committee, will also be provided. The ministry, he said, will provide tools and will assist with seeds and chemicals.

Additionally, a team from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) would visit the affected areas to see what can be done to minimize the flooding.

A team from the ministry comprising officers from the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) and the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will return to the area within a week to conduct an assessment, he said.

Mustapha told the farmers that the government has no political agenda when it comes to the agriculture sector adding that all farmers are key to ensuring food security as they are the ones who are supplying the food we eat.

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