Agriculture Ministry lacked leadership, agencies in deep financial trouble – Mustapha

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha has lamented has discovered a disturbing trend whereby almost every agency under his portfolio is drowning in financial troubles.

He made this revelation during an exclusive interview with this publication on Monday.

Among the agencies with financial difficulties are the Guyana Sugar Corporation, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), and the National Drainage and Irrigation Agency (NDIA).

Mustapha indicated that the mismanagement of these entities can be traced back to his predecessor, former Agriculture Minister Noel Holder.

“Since I came here, I have had meetings with agency heads. I want to say the finances for these agencies are not healthy. There are many agencies that are in crisis, in deficit. And this came about because there was no direction given to the Ministry. And I think the former Minister should have given the Ministry staff the direction they needed,” he said.

“GuySuCo is in a serious financial crisis. The Hope Coconut Estate is in a crisis. You have NDIA with money outstanding, liabilities. GRDB has serious financial problems. Almost all the agencies that fall under the Ministry have financial difficulties,” the Minister explained.

Mustapha noted that he inherited a Ministry where an ad hoc approach was taken to dealing with the agriculture sector.

Mustapha said that policy guidance from Holder, who has kept an extremely low profile since last year, was completely lacking.

“Since I came here, what I found is that this Ministry lacked leadership. There was no leadership and direction given to this Ministry. And it seemed as though everyone was just doing what they thought was right,” Mustapha said.

“So, if you’re a programme head and you are responsible for D&I, if you think this will enhance D&I, you do it. There was no policy guideline and guidance to give to programme heads. There was no cohesive policy.”