A CARDI team headed by Executive Director, Barton Clarke paid a virtual courtesy call to the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Guyana the Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha, on 28 August 2020. Accompanying the Executive Director, were the Chairman, CARDI Board of Directors, Ignatius Jean and CARDI Representative in Guyana, Jhaman Kundun.
In his opening remarks, Clarke congratulated the Minister on his appointment and pledged CARDI’s ongoing support to the development of Guyana’s agriculture sector. Clarke gave an update on CARDI’s work in Guyana and provided the Minister with an overview of the Institute’s governance structure,highlighting the critical role the President of Guyana currently has as the Head for Agriculture, Agricultural Diversification and Food Security in the Quasi-CARICOM arrangement.
In the wide ranging discussion, the CARDI team also reiterated the need for private sector engagement and Guyana’s role in attracting cross border investments. Clarke noted that putting the large tracts of land in Guyana, Belize and Suriname to productive use can help meet the Region’s target of reducing food imports by 25%, by 2025 (25 in 5 plan).
Minister Mustapha, thanked CARDI for the work and investments in Guyana’s agriculture sector and noted there is more to get done. To this end, he said that he will be calling on the Institute to provide technical assistance and training and capacity development in several areas. The Minister remarked that Caribbean farmers are quite capable of feeding the Region, however there is need to provide them with the right marketing and policy support. He continued that the harmonization of intra-regional trading protocols and trade liberalization can assist the Region’s small economies to become more resilient and improve their bargaining power on the world stage. He vouched to support this at the policy level.
In Guyana, CARDI is currently implementing Phase II of the EU/CARIFORUM Regional Coconut Development Project. Over the next 5 years, CARDI and the International Trade Center (ITC) will be working in the areas such as production improvement, waste management and the establishment of a Coconut Industry Board. In addition , CARDI, through the Institute’s subsidiary – The Caribbean Agricultural Commercial Services Hub Limited (CACSH), is developing a 5,000 acre commercial farm in the Upper Berbice River, Ebini. Featuring a range of high value crops such as coconuts, hot peppers, passion fruit and soursop, the project is expected to prompt the development of the community through improved employment, contract farming and technical as well as business advisory services.