– Minister Mustapha says station lacks cohesion, resident coordinator to be employed
The PPP/C Government has signaled its intention to resuscitate Guyana’s agriculture sector. Since taking office, the Government has been making several strides towards improving the sector through investments in areas of improved research and technology.
These plans were further expressed by Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha during a visit to the ministry’s Research Station in Ebini, which is located in Region Ten along the Berbice River.
Although the station has established orchards, a germ-plasm coconut plantation, and demonstration farms for crops like corn, over the years the station was unable to make an impact on the overall development of the sector.
Minister Mustapha said although some amount of research is being done at the Ebini research station, it is not being done on a scale that is required.
“This station was not only established to research new things but also test existing varieties and genetic material for both crops and livestock species. Although the staff here have been doing some amount of research, it isn’t being don’t on a scale that could make an impact on the sector’s development. With Guyana now taking up the leading role in advancing the agri-food system in the Caribbean, I will be working to refocus the operations of this facility. Our agencies here have been operating without uniformity. Officers have not been working with a general work program and that has to change. I intend to appoint an agriculture coordinator to manage the station. That way, our agencies can have some amount of synergy rather than continuing to work in isolation,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Minister also said his ministry is looking to establish and rehabilitate a number of critical infrastructures in the station.
“In addition to changing the way our agencies operate in Ebini, we’ll be embarking on a number of rehabilitation projects. We’ll also be putting some critical infrastructure in place, like the research lab, the training room, the water system, and seed storage bond,” Minister Mustapha said.
Cattle and Small Ruminant
The Guyana Livestock Development Authority has been able to have relatively good successes in Ebini. At present, GLDA has a herd of over 1000 heads of cattle for both dairy and beef production there. Additionally, Ebini is home to over 500 heads of Barbados Black-Belly Sheep, the largest single flock in the Caribbean.
“We have a number of breeding animals here. In terms of cattle, we have five different breeds at the research station here. We have to ensure we enhance our stock especially now that we are looking to expand our livestock sector. A lot of work will have to be done here especially with the new abattoirs that we will be constructing. GLDA’s breeding program will have to be ramped up to ensure farmers have greater access to quality breeding animals,” Minister Mustapha said.
As it relates to crop research, Minister Mustapha expressed his dissatisfaction with the facility’s production.
“The coconut germ-plasm also needs a lot of work. I was not satisfied with the condition of the trees. I was also informed that for the years that the plantation has been in existence, it has not been producing the way it should. I’ve since instructed the CEO of NAREI to look into it because if this plantation is supposed to be the model cultivation with the capacity to supply the entire country with stock it should be in a position to produce. “
The Minister also said investments will also be made to facilitate the large-scale production of crops like corn and soya bean.
“We are also embarking on new projects like large-scale production of crops like corn and soya-bean. There is a trial plot in Takama that is being done by a group of private investors. The government will also be investing close to $500 million to construct an access road to go to that area, and in another two years, that cultivation will be tremendous. We are looking to become self-sufficient in the production of proteins for the poultry sector and to export to the Caribbean. Guyana has the potential to do great things in agriculture. For years the sector lacked the leadership needed to advance the sector and now that we have resumed office, the PPP/C government will be providing that leadership to ensure Guyana’s agriculture sector.”
Minister Mustapha said he remains optimistic that with the importance being placed on agriculture in Guyana once again, research stations like the one located in Ebini will be able to fulfill their intended purpose. The Ebini Research Station is one of the oldest continuous research entities in Guyana, established in 1940. The station initially started as a livestock research station. The crop research station was established in the early-mid 1960s. Over the years the station has been responsible for the development of a number of crop and livestock farming systems applicable to the Intermediate Savannahs.