Agriculture largest single contributor to national economy
- Sawh
Guyana Chronicle
October 4, 2001

AGRICULTURE, apart from being the largest single contributor to the local national economy, is closely linked to roughly 70 per cent of the population to which it represents a means of livelihood and way of life.

For those reasons, the absolute importance of its pursuit cannot be over-emphasised, Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh said in an "Agriculture Month’ message Tuesday.

He said the month of October is significant to all in Guyana, given the fact that it is the time when the contributions of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the country is recognised.

According to him, the agricultural sector caters for the health and longevity of Guyanese, as an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, staples and livestock, which adequately supply our dietary requirements, are produced.

Along with being a source of great pride, agriculture has allowed this country to become a world class food producing and exporting nation, Minister Sawh said.

With overall responsibility for the fisheries, other crops and livestock sub-sectors over the past five years, the Minister acknowledged that it has been challenging and an ever-evolving process.

“But our energies have not waned and, even in the face of severe adversities like weather or pest-related production hazards, our enthusiasm continues to be buoyed by the absolute resilience and unwavering commitment of our farmers and processors to their operators,” he assured.

His message continued:“Today, I salute them all. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to those honourable men and women who till the soil and grow and process the foods that sustain our nation and satisfy our many overseas markets”.

Guyana has joined forces with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in commemorating World Food Day on October 16 each year and the Minister posited that October is of extreme relevance to Guyanese &#x201Cas we ponder not only our own agricultural development but also the state of food and agriculture in the world and the role we can play in alleviating global hunger and poverty”.

Sawh said, this year, we have made a conscious effort to align our activities for the month of October to the FAO’s theme for World Food Day "Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty’.

“We in the agricultural sector believe that we must carry the global torch in support of the fight against hunger. We shall work closely with our Government’s "Poverty Reduction Programme’ to ensure that entrepreneurship in food production and cottage industries are embraced in our rural communities to effect the kind of socio-economic development that will be sustainable and self-regenerating.

“Every man, woman and child of Guyana must be spared the pangs of hunger which some 800 million of our brothers and sisters in this world face on a daily basis, “ the Minister urged.

Sawh said the agriculture sector is well placed to gain momentum, expand and diversify and the two major industries, sugar and rice have served well in the past and continue to be the backbone of the economy.

He said Guyana has ideal conditions to grow a wide range of foods and, because there has not been complacency in the other agriculture sub-sectors, continuous growth has been the end result.

Testimony to this is the increased contribution of other crops, livestock and fisheries to total agriculture, from 31 per cent in 1995 to 35 per cent in 2000. Also, despite a harsh year 2000, with major climatic adversities throughout the producing areas, the three sub-sectors recorded positive growth, other crops 1.1 per cent, livestock 4.5 per cent and fisheries 14.6 per cent, the Minister reported.

He said the statistics demonstrate the will of the Government of Guyana and determination of the farmers and processors to take the nation forward agriculturally.

“We work as a team. We build on our successes, learn from our mistakes and remain steadfast in our focus,” Sawh stressed.

Gratified by the achievements, he recalled that, in May, Guyana obtained international certification from the Organisation International des Epizooties to export beef.

It marks a most crucial juncture for the livestock industry, as, for 22 years, Guyana was forced out of an export market for livestock products, because of a 1978 minimal outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in Rupununi, which was contained and never recurred, Sawh remarked.

He said: “But, while we remain committed to continue providing the regulatory framework and the appropriate mechanisms to support investment, the onus is now on the producers and the business sector to move the process further”.