Newly-appointed Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, is hoping to the hit the ground running in order to provide immediate relief to farmers, who, according him, have been suffering tremendously over the past five years under the previous coalition administration.
During a brief interview with the media after taking the oath of office as a Member of the President Irfaan Ali-led Cabinet, Mustapha said that he intends to present an immediate plan of action to His Excellency that would seek to ease the plight farmers are currently facing due to neglect and poor management of the sector.
“I know for a fact that over the past five years, many farmers, have been suffering because the cost of production has been increased tremendously and there were not sufficient markets for farmers’ produce (to be sold).”
“I am hoping that immediately we can address the plights of cash crop farmers, rice farmers, and more importantly development in the sugar industry,” Mustapha added.
Mustapha, who has been with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) from a young age as a member of the Progressive Youth Organisation pointed to the crisis currently facing the sugar industry and said this is a main area he hopes to tackle during his tenure as minister.
“The sugar industry is in a crisis. We have seen the closure of four sugar estates, where almost 7500 sugar workers have lost their jobs,” he reminded.
He added that the PPP/C has made certain commitments in its manifesto and he will work very diligently with the involvement of all the stakeholders to ensure that those promises are fulfilled.
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday swore in 19 members of his new Cabinet, and among the lot are several new, vibrant and youthful faces, whom he said bring multifaceted skillset and experience.
The simple swearing-in ceremony was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre – the same location where Dr Ali was sworn in as President on Sunday last.
“It’s a multifaceted fusion of experience and skillsets that we brought together… So you will see many of the appointments in the various areas of Government that will fuse different corners of our society together, different interests of our society together, as we work on giving the people of our country the best possible outcome…
“You’ve taken, like I did, an oath to people of this country, and we expect nothing else but fulfillment of that oath,” President Ali asserted.