President David Granger, today (Sunday), emphasised the importance of agriculture to the development of Barima-Waini (Region One) even as he visited Hosororo to celebrate National Tree Day and to officially commission an ambitious move towards agro-processing and value added production through the Hosororo Tumeric Factory, which is a tangible demonstration of Government’s commitment to transforming the economic landscape of hinterland regions and the country as a whole.
President Granger first attended the National Tree Day 2017 event, which is celebrated in October each year since 2015 as part of the ‘Agriculture Month’ calendar of activities. He told residents, regional officials and Ministry of Agriculture officers that Region One holds great agricultural production potential, which can transform it into a prosperous economic hub, once it is utilised in a sustainable manner.
The Head of State also used the opportunity to call on regional and municipal leaders to work with residents to craft a strong, effective agricultural plan, which will guide the process of development in their respective villages and help them to secure a better quality of life as it has the capacity and land space to intensify its agricultural efforts. “You call yourselves Region One, then I want to make you number one in terms of agricultural production. We are blessed to be given land like this and when we speak of National Tree Day we are speaking of protecting this gift…the best Avocado pear I have ever had comes from this Region and there is no reason why you cannot be number one in agricultural production,” the President said.
This was supported by Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock, who said that food security is important in these times of climate change and unpredictable weather and Guyana can play a role in the provision of high quality, nutritious, wholesome foods to the Region. “We have to take stock of what we have within our communities so that we can benefit from them,” he said.
In this regard, the commissioning of the turmeric factory falls squarely in line with President Granger’s push towards agro-processing and is a tangible example of what is possible for the Region. The factory will utilise turmeric from small farmers in the Region.
Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), said that this project is one of the transformative projects the Ministry of Agriculture through NAREI is working on to promote agro processing and sustain the livelihoods of small farmers.
Guyana currently imports 166 tonnes of turmeric each year, but with the factory up and running, it is anticipated that by 2019, it will be able to satisfy local demand and also produce enough product for exportation. The small farmers of the Region, Dr. Homenauth said, will be the main beneficiaries of the project. “All money will remain in this Region for the development of this Region,” he said. NAREI is also making plans for expanding production to include black pepper and ginger and has already planted 50 acres of the former.
President Granger said that National Tree Day has a role to play emphasising the importance of agricultural production so that more agro-processing projects can be a reality. Beyond production though, he noted that the replanting of trees has an important environmental function and called for a Trees Action Plan, which he said, should be implemented by all municipalities so that Guyana can move closer to its goal of a ‘green’ Guyana.
“Every year we will move from region to region taking the message of the importance of trees to our country, to all regions, to all communities and to all citizens. And I would suggest the Trees Action Plan and one element of that plan is that you should not forget trees after today but embark on a plan that would deal with the natural regeneration of plants and protecting those existing plants. Under this plan for regeneration let us see all communities with small community parks where people can go with their families, where schools and churches can go and let us focus on populating indigenous trees,” he said.
In this regard, the President expressed his gratitude to Mr. Augustine Solomon, a resident of Hosororo, who plugged his own resources into the construction of the ‘green’ park at the Hosororo Community Ground, where he, along with Minister Allicock, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder and Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan all planted avocado trees as part of the National Tree Day event at Hosororo.
Noting that he would like to see the establishment of a Botanical Garden in every region, the President said that the second aspect of the Trees Action Plan deals with leaving a legacy for the next generation so that they can understand how important it is for trees to not only be planted but protected as well. “Tree Planting day provides us with an opportunity to inform all Guyanese to care for trees wherever they are. We have an obligation to provide for other generations. Let us use National Tree Day as an opportunity to let the next generation to know that we care for them so that Guyana remains green.,” President Granger urged residents.
Minister Bulkan, in his remarks, said that National Tree Day is not a fad nor a passing fancy, but a response by the President and his administration to the global warming and climate change. “This is not an academic issue for us. It is a real one given that we are below sea level by as much as two metres in some places and it is on the coastal strip where majority of our population lives. We have to be concerned with global warming and climate change. This year, almost all of our regions have experienced the effects of climate change. Trees are, therefore, essential to our wellbeing,” he said.
Minister Bulkan noted that his Ministry has been playing its own part and has launched a project, which aims to plant 10,000 trees within the next 36 months all across Guyana. So far, over 1,000 have been planted at five locations across three regions.
Minister Holder said that the importance of trees particularly in the protection of the environment and the agricultural sector cannot be over emphasised. “Climate change depends on planting trees. Trees take out the carbon dioxide out of the air and provides habitat for animals. Agriculture remains one of the most important sectors in Guyana and the change in climate can have serious impacts on the agriculture sector. Agriculture will be on the sectors most affected by climate change. Region one has an important role to play and we will continue to raise the profile of these communities,” he said. (MotP)