By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy told the House during his contribution to the budget debate that while a lot has been said about investment in the country, the real story of development is being fueled domestically by hard working Guyanese and not drug lords.
He said small scale farmers are in fact the largest investors in the country’s development.
“Take for instance rice farmers; in 2013 rice farmers invested about $28B, not in in-kind contributions, not in their investments in machines, but in operational costs, in real money, directly for cultivation. This is money they invested in land preparations, in fertilizers and pesticides, in seed paddy, in water management in their fields, in harvesting, in transportation of their paddies, etc. They invested a minimum of $28B in cultivating more than 400,000 acres of rice in 2013. “
Dr. Ramsammy added that between 2010 and 2013, it was rice farmers who invested $6B in tractors and harvesters; adding that at the rate they are going now, they will exceed $2B in 2014 in tractors and harvesters.
He noted too that rice millers invested $10B to increase capacity in drying, storage and milling of paddies over the past four years.
“They are not drug lords or drug pushers. It is their hard-earned cash that they invest. The economy of Guyana is driven towards positive growth by these investors, not the drug lords that some of our colleagues on the other side want to paint them all with the same brush.”
He told members of the Opposition that this is the hard, cold facts, censuring them that when they speak loosely, they insult people like the country’s rice farmers.
Ramsammy told the House that rice farmers generated income of more than $45B in 2013.
“This is the story of Guyana. This is the Guyana I see, not a Guyana that develops because of drug money, but because of hard working, ordinary citizens, our brothers and our sisters.”
The Minister said he was saddened when the argument ensued in the House recently about some citizens in Leguan being grass-cutters.
“Let me show you what development in Guyana is: The rice farmers in Leguan invested some $675M in 2013 and contributed about 0.1% of the entire GDP of Guyana. Even if they do cut grass, these are not ordinary citizens. They invest in Leguan and in our country. They drive the economy, and their investment is not drug money. They make you and I and all of us better.”
Ramsammy told the Opposition that when they seek to explain eight years of continued growth by dismissing it as drug-driven growth they diminish the hard work of all Guyanese, their commitment, their dreams, their achievements.
“This is the story of the Guyana I see when I leave the hallowed halls of our Parliament. Not a broken country, with only dismal tales to tell. It is a country bravely moving upwards on a trajectory of better lives for all, gaining in economic and social standings in our Region, proudly celebrating successes. But this is the country that is denied in this House. This is the country where people’s lives are misrepresented for narrow political gains.”