Joe Singh appointed Chairman of NAREI Board

Major General (Ret’d) Joe Singh
Major General (Ret’d) Joe Singh

Major General (Ret’d) Joe Singh has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).

The other members are Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Anjanie Narine, Andrew Forsythe, Natasha Beerjit-Deonarine, Bibi Shadick, Jainarine Narine, Suresh Amichand, Pooran Seeraj, Ricky Roopchand, Christopher Vandeyar, Dr. Garvin Cummings, Porandatt Narine, Raymond Ramsaroop and Dr. Oudho Homenauth (ex officio).

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, earlier today, encouraged the new Board to work together in order to lay the ground work to take the agency to the next level.

Minister Mustapha said the Board is expected to develop programmes aligned with Government’s policies, as were outlined in its 2020-2025 manifesto.

“Some of those policies are to create a supporting environment for other crops development, promoting agriculture diversification with focus on coconut and horticulture. NAREI is also tasked with promoting an agro-energy industry; producing bioethical through palm oil, cassava and corn. I recently had a discussion with the Chairman about palm oil in Region One and I’ve asked him to prepare a programme for the Ministry so that we can see the kind of funding necessary for that,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Board was also tasked with developing guidelines to expand import substitution crops and other crops in the Hinterland Savannahs.

The subject Minister noted that, in last year’s emergency budget, incentives were given in the soya bean and corn industry and that the Board should work to promote the cultivation of these two crops.

Furthermore, Minister Mustapha encouraged the Board to pay special attention to developing strategies to boost Guyana’s coconut industry.

“You know for a fact that our coconut industry is about to take off and we’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on the its success and development. We’ve had budgetary allocation last year to develop two new coconut nurseries and this year we are proposing an additional seven nurseries for other areas around the country. We are optimistic that we’ll have those projects approved by the Ministry of Finance so that we can begin constructing these nurseries. The coconut industry, for me, is probably the third most important crop in our country and has the potential to be a very large foreign exchange earner for Guyana. We’ve also made great progress with joining the International Coconut Community (ICC),” Minister Mustapha said.

The Board was also asked to play close attention to the development and implementation of the mangrove development plan for 2021-2025. Minister Mustapha urged the new Board to develop a programme to guide government’s five-year strategic plan for strengthening Guyana’s sea defences through the integration of mangroves, inclusive of the execution of mangrove replanting exercises in vulnerable areas across the Coast.

Newly appointed Chairman of the Board, Major General (Ret’d) Joe Singh, while offering remarks stated that the Board will work together to address the areas identified by Minister Mustapha.

“The Minister has given us a very comprehensive outline of his and Cabinet’s expectations of the Board and direction on what is considered priorities as it relates to NAREI’s mandate. I don’t expect us to only be sitting in a boardroom, but we’ll also be visiting other areas across the country. In this way we’ll be able to see the results of NAREI’s research as well as interact with farmers. I really would like us to think from a national perspective – how is what we’re doing as a Board is not only supporting, tasking and monitoring what NAREI is doing but what it is that we can bring to the Board. I don’t expect persons to just be rubber stamps,” Mr. Singh said.

The Chairman further stated that there are a number of outstanding issues that the Board will be dealing with during their statutory meetings.