Guyana is expected to receive three additional mobile pumps from India by late October to assist with its drainage capabilities ahead of the next rainy season.
This was disclosed by India’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K. J. Srinivasa, during a courtesy call to Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha at his Regent Street Office on Tuesday.
“The pumps, I believe that will be used for irrigation, should be here by October. They have already left India. As it is now, we have some specialists that are expected to come to Guyana to assist with the installation of the pumps. We are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Guyana’s High Commission in India to assist with visas and other logistical support to the officers,” High Commissioner Dr. Srinivasa said.
During their discussion, Minister Mustapha mentioned several opportunities for meaningful collaboration, as he outlined several challenges that the agriculture sector is currently facing.
“Right now, in Guyana, the challenges faced in the agriculture sector are climate change, financing, expertise in terms of personnel and also the numerous pests and diseases affecting our crops. I know India has very strong technical capabilities and resources to effectively deal with some of the challenges we are facing. I am looking forward to close collaborations with the Indian Government, through your office, to help us overcome some of these challenges,” Minister Mustapha said.
The two officials also discussed partnering to diversify the sugar industry. Minister Mustapha reiterated the government’s commitment to reopening the sugar industry, in a profitable way.
“To make sugar profitable, we have to diversify. We have to first make the cost of production less than the price of sugar on the world market. This government understands the importance of the industry. When the previous administration closed those estates, there was a ripple effect that saw entire communities suffering. As a government, profits shouldn’t be your main motivator. You should work to improve the lives of your people. If you have to take some money from the treasury to help your people, there is nothing wrong with doing that,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also indicated that he has commenced working with the senior and technical officers at the Ministry to get things moving as it relates to reopening the sugar industry.
“Given India’s output on the world stage, I know that Guyana can take a lot of guidance from India. I know for a fact that your Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, expressed an interest to help us with the sugar industry and right now that is one of the main issues for me as Minister. I have begun to do some groundwork and gather information on the way forward as it pertains to achieving our manifesto promise of re-opening the sugar industry. I hope we can tap into some resources and technical assistance from your government in that regard,” Minister Mustapha said.
Technology transfer between the two nations to improve Guyana’s rice industry was also discussed, as High Commissioner Dr. Srinivasa indicated that the Indian government is committed to working with the government to improve the yields of farmers across the country.
Minister Mustapha informed the High Commissioner that India had previously assisted Guyana’s rice industry by having a rice specialist work with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) which saw yields per acre increasing tremendously and that he is looking forward to the same kind of collaboration to boost the industry.
The High Commissioner also informed the Minister that several training opportunities are also available for persons involved in agriculture.
“Over the years, we have offered a number of training opportunities in several areas. These opportunities are not only open to your agriculture officers. If you have farmers or other persons involved in the sector that require training, we can facilitate them. The programs are short term but very intense so these individuals would return well equipped to advance in the sector,” Dr. Srinivasa said.
Other areas for collaborations discussed were training and technical support in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, cash crops development, pest and disease control mechanisms and agro-processing.
High Commissioner Dr. Srinivasa also mentioned that India has been in talks with CARICOM, and an aquaculture specialist will soon be in the Region to assist the CARICOM States in that regard. He assured Minister Mustapha that Guyana will benefit from that venture.
Both parties indicated their governments remain committed to strengthening bilateral relations in the future.
Also present at the meeting was MoA’s Director-General, Madanlall Ramraj.