Sawh pushing for crop diversification
Stabroek News
April 12, 2003

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Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh says Guyana must diversify its agricultural base to protect its economy.

Sawh in addressing the National Assembly on Monday during the 2003 budget debate said that while the economy is being restructured the country's economic base must be diversified and the ministry must have the necessary resources to accomplish this. He added that the aim is to broaden the base and plan so that when one or two of the crops fail others could be looked at.

He also spoke of the new fisheries legislation which would allow Guyana to access European markets. "From reports I've received out of a recent visit from a European team, we will be very soon accessing EU markets. This was made possible too because of the Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) being used by trawler operators in Guyana. We are firmly committed to sustainable exploitation of our marine resources. Our position is to sustainably exploit."

He also spoke of his ministry's promotion of aquaculture noting that over the years areas for aquaculture production had grown from 200 acres to 4,000 acres, adding that there were also private entrepreneurs setting up shrimp cultivation.

The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) had taken the lead in developing organic agriculture, the Minister said. For 2002, 3,500 lbs of produce was exported to the United Kingdom, Sawh noted. This compared to 2,100 lbs for 2001. The ministry projects a UK export figure of between 4,000 and 5,000 lbs in 2003.

He mentioned that heart of palm production encompassed 200 acres in Region One. He also said that a processing facility was to be set up as well as training programmes for the development of organic agriculture, which would include new vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. To this end, the ministry is working with investors and entrepreneurs in the hinterland savannahs. He also announced that a new $8M plant nursery and research centre was to be established in Black Bush Polder and that $2M had been earmarked for mushrooms to be grown on a commercial basis. Technical assistance would come from Colombia, India and China.

The ministry was looking at value-added aspects of agricultural activity such as the processing of peanuts, cheese and yogurt.

Meanwhile, Sawh declared his ministry's intentions to continue social development work in the forestry sector. To this end the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) had made visits to various hinterland communities to speak on the guidelines of the GFC. Forestry certification is also being given a boost with the coming on stream of forestry certification bodies. This, Sawh noted, would lead to greater access to markets for Guyana's forest products.

Stressing the importance of marketing to the farmer, he said his ministry was encouraging the farmers' involvement with the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (NGMC). (Johann Earle)

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