Govt wants hinterland communities to be self-sufficient, supply food to mining districts


In his first trip to Batavia, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) since Amerindian Heritage celebrations in September 2023, President Dr Irfaan Ali laid out his vision for hinterland communities to be food-secure and self-sufficient, with the ability to supply food to nearby mining districts and earn revenue for themselves.

On Thursday, the President and his team visited Batavia to hear the concerns of residents. The President also talked of his vision for the community, in the areas of security, education, and agriculture.

According to the President, technical officers within the Agriculture Ministry will do their assessments to determine the best possible crop to grow in Batavia. This, he explained, will be based on the soil type, to eventually supply nearby mining outfits. The President wants hinterland communities across the country to seize such opportunities.

“We’re now experimenting. For example, I see your soil type here. And we’re trying to grow onions for example. We’re trying to grow onions on a national scale. So, within a year, a year and a half, we don’t need to import onions into Guyana anymore. We will grow all our onions right here in Guyana. We’re looking to grow carrots, so within a year and a half, you won’t need to import carrots.

“We will have all the carrots, all the blackeye, and red beans. And we want every community to be integrated in this process. There’s no reason why miners must go out to Georgetown to buy blackeye, to buy eggs and chicken when we can develop those things right in these communities and be able to sufficiently supply the mining community. We just have to work on a plan, a vision, and a strategy.”

In addition, the Head of State noted that $24 million was transferred from the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) funds for the community, $13 million of which has already been disbursed. Money has also been spent on the community from the presidential grant initiative.

In the area of education, he noted that $90 million has already been spent and a new $45 million nursery school will be constructed. In addition, work will be done on the primary school to the tune of approximately $10.9 million. Upgrades will also be done to the teachers’ quarters, amounting to approximately $9 million.

Among the interventions the Government has made to directly benefit Batavia is the distribution of shade house materials, a cassava mill, insecticides, pesticides and weedicides, fertilizers, in addition to the black giant chicken.

According to Agriculture Ministry Director General Madanlall Ramraj, much more is in store for the Amerindian community. Already, millions have been spent on infrastructural development.

“We have done $130 million in drainage and clearing of areas. We are now embarking on a bigger project. We are embarking on the apiary culture. Training has started at the prison, where the prisoners themselves are using the wax to make soap and a host of other things,” he said.

Outgoing Toshao Orin Williams lauded the President and his Government, for their efforts at bringing development to Batavia. Williams, who is expected to leave office later this month after six years at the helm of the community, also urged the people to continue to support the work being done by the Government.

“Now we have the LCDS (Low Carbon Development Strategy). The carbon credits that we’re benefitting from. Also, other finances coming in from the quarries operating within our village. So today we’re no longer in that stage where we only have $800,000 per year. Today, we are millionaires.

“And we must say thanks to this government for giving us all these opportunities that we have today. I’ve served you for six years and on the 15th of this month, we’ll be electing a new leader. And I do hope and I want to encourage you, to continue working closely with this government. I know and I’m proud of my village, that we are a red village,” Williams stated.