‘We produce enough’ – Mustapha says Govt to clamp down on importation of fruits & vegetables

Anna Regina vegetable vendor Sherrey Bisram sitting at her stand [File photo]

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha has announced that better systems will be put in place to guard against the unnecessary importation of fruits and vegetables into the country – which, he surmised, can have a dire impact on local farmers.

He made the remarks on Friday last whilst addressing farmers from Belladrum, Foulis, Profit, Rising Sun and surrounding communities during an outreach at Profit Community Centre, West Coast Berbice (WCB).

“We are clamping down,” the Agriculture Minister declared after a farmer raised his concerns about the large amounts of imported tomatoes and cabbages on the local market.

“The importation of the tomatoes and the cabbage them…is affecting us a lot…the prices, they sell at a lower cost. We produce suffer to sell. Fertiliser expensive…manual labour, them man want $6000-$7000 a day…,” the farmer expressed.

In response, Minister Mustapha explained that there is no need for the importation of fruits and vegetables that are being produced locally, especially when there is enough local produce to meet the local demand.

“We know for a fact that we are producing enough in Guyana. When you look at the statistics, every single morning I have coming on my desk, the price list and the production data and when you look at production, every week you’re seeing an increase in production but there are some unscrupulous people who are trying to create an artificial shortage, trying to use that to bring in things from Brazil and flood the market,” Minister Mustapha said.

He went on to note that, “they are going so far to create artificial shortage to increase the price too.”

According to the government official, “the same $200 bora you purchase” in markets like Port Mourant, Rosignol, Leonora and Diamond “are being sold for $600 in Stabroek and Bourda market”.

He blamed the “middlemen” for unnecessarily increasing the prices, a move which brings significant hardship for locals.

Minister Mustapha noted that this is why the government is promoting farmers markets in every region on a monthly basis.

Moreover, to address the substantive issue of the unnecessary importation of fruits and vegetables into the country, the Agriculture Minister said “permission must not be granted to anyone who wants to bring in fruits and vegetables in this country, we are producing enough for every single Guyanese.”

Chairman of the Foulis United Farmers Association Shaknauth Singh welcomed the announcement by the Minister.

“I think it’s a good venture…,” he said.