As Guyana embarks on an ambitious plan to reclaim its title as the bread basket of the Caribbean, it will now produce millet through a partnership with India.
Four packs of millet were gifted to Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on behalf of the Government of India on Friday.
It was the final commitment delivered by the Indian High Commissioner Dr KJ Srinivasa before his departure to his homeland on Saturday.
“This is something which was very dear to the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We are working very assiduously to spread the cultivation of millets because this is a very low-cost crop that we grow in India. Highly nutritious and it’s good for diabetics, good for people with illnesses,” the High Commissioner said.
He recommitted India’s support for working with Guyana on its quest for food security. Importantly, Dr. Srinivasa said that Indian export companies in various sectors are actively working with Guyana. He added that many Guyanese have received scholarships for training programmes in India in the Agriculture sector and this support will be strengthened.
This initiative was orchestrated during a meeting between President Dr Irfaan Ali and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the Global Millet Conference in March. The High Commissioner and Minister Mustapha later discussed it with the Agriculture Minister of India Narendra Tomar, hence some 200 acres of land were set aside for the cultivation of millets. It is expected to be produced in Regions 4, 9 and 10.
“Millet is a very good crop for us in terms of what we are trying to do and get food security, reduce the food import bill and millet is an indigenous crop I think that Guyana is leading the charge in food security and I think this is an appropriate time that we start the crop in the Caribbean and right here in Guyana,” Minister Mustapha said.
He explained that the land is fertile and the crop can withstand the tropical climate. Millets are a group of cereal grains that are usually grounded into flour. It has a nutritional profile similar to other cereals.
Millet production in Guyana is significant not just for reducing the food import bill but also for concerns growing over the global impacts of the Ukraine/Russia war. A wheat shortage is anticipated and many countries have embarked on producing its own to make up for any shortcomings, Guyana is ambitiously moving in the same direction.