Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha announced during a recent outreach to the Essequibo Coast that the coconut industry is poised to be transformed under the new PPP/C government.
Minister Mustapha would have met with a number of stakeholders from the coconut industry and informed them that they will soon benefit from a number of government interventions.
“This Government knows that the full potential of Guyana’s coconut industry hasn’t been reached. From this emergency budget, to increase access and reduce the cost of coconut planting material, Government will be establishing two coconut nurseries, one at Charity, on the Essequibo Coast and another at Kairuni, on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. These nurseries will have the capacity to produce 25,000 additional seedlings per year,” Minister Mustapha said.
He added that Government will continue to promote agricultural diversification with a focus on coconut and horticulture.
“In addition to NAREI and Hope Estate providing planting materials, farmers will receive training on how to establish their own nurseries. For the first time in Guyana, the coconut industry will be given prominence and we will work towards promoting expansion in acreages, inter-cropping, utilization of coconut by-products, and increasing production and productivity,” Minister said.
Jared Kissoon, a Pomeroon trader involved in the coconut industry, said that he welcomes these interventions that Government has put in place in such a short period of time. However, he asked for some assistance to combat the dreaded Red Palm Mite and Coconut cockle, which he said can have a devastating impact on the sector if not addressed immediately.
While offering a response to Mr. Kissoon, Minister Mustapha assured the entrepreneur that extension officers from the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will put measures in place to address his concerns.
“I have with me here, the Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr. Homenauth. He is going to have his officers in the Region visit your farms and work closely with you to solve your issues,” Minister Mustapha said.
Other issues raised by farmers were need for markets for produce, access roads, Acoushi ants infestations, inadequate drainage and irrigation, among others.
The subject Minister assured the farmers that he will ensure his officers address their issues in a timely manner.
“I have my senior officers here to listen to your concerns. I have instructed them to speak to you, get all the necessary information and have your issues addressed. They have to provide me with a report on the progress made with these issues by the end of the new week. Those of you who know me know that I am a very ‘hands on’ person and as Minister, I will have a ‘hands on’ approach to dealing with farmers’ issues,” Minister said.
Minister Mustapha also assured those in attendance that all Ministry officials have to work effectively and will be held accountable, adding that gone are the days where officers do not perform and are paid at the end of the month.
“Government is committed to improving the lives of all Guyanese regardless of race or religion. As Minister, I will ensure my officers function in a capacity where our farmers benefit. If persons do not want to be responsive and accountable, they can go home,” Minister said.