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Guyana must be prepared to counter climate change threat to food security – Agri Minister

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…assures infrastructural investments being made to protect coast

Even as Guyana’s production of new and traditional crops increases, so too does the threat that climate change poses. According to Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha, one critical area climate change poses a threat to is Guyana’s food security aims and the country must be prepared.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

Last week, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government passed the Sea and River Defense Bill (2024) during the 82nd sitting of the twelfth parliament. In his presentation lending support to the bill, Mustapha made reference to climate change and the danger it presents to agriculture.
“This new bill is a crucial piece of legislation that will facilitate the repeal of outdated provisions, in the existing legislation of Sea and River Defense Act 64:01 and 64:02, which may no longer be effective or relevant in the current context of climate change, rising sea levels and coastal vulnerabilities.”
“This updated legislation also takes into account natural flood protection, such as mangroves, and aim to enable greater enforcement against encroachment. Mr Speaker, alongside the rise in sea level, by the end of this century we’ll see the temperature increased by 4 degrees Celsius. We have to be prepared to counter that,” Mustapha said.

A sum of $6.9 billion has been budgeted for sea defences this year

Mustapha pointed out that much of Guyana’s agriculture is based on the coast, known for having the most fertile soil for traditional crops such as rice and sugar, as well as other crops. He made it clear that protecting Guyana’s coastal areas requires proper infrastructure, something the PPP/C government is investing in.
“And that is what we are doing. Bringing legislation to this assembly to modernise the infrastructure of our country. Given that a significant portion of our country’s agriculture and food production is situated along the coast, the combination of rising sea levels and intensified rainfall, pose a direct threat to our nation’s food security,” he added.
“Guyana now is taking the spotlight. We’re seeing the major areas in production we are increasing. For example, rice production, we are seeing a major increase almost already. And I’m hoping that when the (half year report is presented), that will be showing there. We are producing now a number of new crops. And we are increasing the traditional crops that we’ve been producing over the centuries. That calls for proper infrastructure.”
Expounding on the need for robust sea defenses for agricultural development, Mustapha said that government has identified the issues farmers have faced owing to flooding. He was adamant that this legislation supports the resolution to the problem.
“Over 1,000 acres of rice adjacent to the sea defense was flooded in 2019, and has not been cultivated since…this is how we operate. We identify, we analyse, and we fix the problem,” he pointed out.
Since 2020, some $24 Billion were spent on sea defenses, compared to approximately $10 Billion during the 2015-2020 period under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Administration. Sea defense structures are set to be upgraded this year in Bygeval, Cane Garden, Leguan, and Wakenaam, among others, thanks to a $6.9 Billion budgetary allocation in the 2024 budget.
During budget 2024, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh had announced that Government plans to pump $97.6B into agriculture in 2024. This is on the back of a strong performance in agriculture last year.
The sector recorded a growth of seven percent after the sum of $60.4 billion was spent therein for its stimulation and invigoration. The performance is attributed to increases across all sub-sectors; namely, other crops, rice-growing, livestock, fishing, sugar-growing, and forestry.
In delivering his budget presentation, the finance minister noted that huge investments would be made in the subsectors of sugar, rice, other crops, corn and soya, coconut, citrus, and spices; as well as agro-processing, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture.
For 2023, the sugar industry grew by 28 per cent while it declined by 11.8 per cent in 2019. Rice expanded in 2023 by seven per cent while there was a mere one per cent increase in 2019. The other crops sector grew by 4.1 per cent in 2023, while there was a meagre growth of 0.3 per cent in 2019.
The livestock industry increased by 12.7 per cent in 2023 while 2019 recorded a decline of 3.5 per cent. In 2023, Guyana’s fishing industry increased by 37.8 per cent and 25 per cent in the aquaculture sector. (G3)

The post Guyana must be prepared to counter climate change threat to food security – Agri Minister appeared first on Guyana Times.

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