Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moraikobai looks to large-scale agriculture, call for govt assistance

 At the mini exhibition, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud examines a cassava grown in the community while Regional Chairman, Harrinarine Baldeo (partly hidden, at back) looks at a craft item.
At the mini exhibition, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud examines a cassava grown in the community while Regional Chairman, Harrinarine Baldeo (partly hidden, at back) looks at a craft item.

GUYANA - As Amerindians support the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), residents of Moraikobai in the Mahaicony River have called on government to assist with equipment and soil testing so they could diversify to large-scale agriculture.

The residents, concerned that they would have to ease up on logging, which is their main means of earning a livelihood said Moraikobai is not a major farming community but they were willing to start planting and growing more.

As part of the celebration of Agriculture Month, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud visited the area on Saturday to “address” some of the concerns of residents and assured them that they would get the required support. At the end of his address he presented a quantity of fruit and vegetable seeds, chemicals to deal with acoushi ants along with two breeding pigs to Toshao Dereck John. The items would be used to benefit the community.

The residents had gathered for training sessions including farming techniques, controlling pests and proper care of animals, conducted by technical staff of the Agriculture Ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission.

John expressed gratitude for the items they received. He told this newspaper that residents were also grateful for the knowledge they were gaining from the training sessions. “Technical personnel are not here so these people come in to teach us and demonstrate to us and it is a big boost to the community,” he said.

The minister told the residents that while the community relied on logging he was happy that residents have been exposed to the discussion on the LCDS and what is happening in terms of climate change and that they would be part of the strategy.

He also pointed out that the LCDS is not intended to impinge or interfere with their livelihood but that government would ensure that the community has a stable and sufficient supply of food and that there are no disruptions in terms of forestry activities.

A mini exhibition, showcasing ground provision and as well as craft items made by the women, was also held. The women raised the issue of their crafts not being sold despite efforts to display them at various exhibitions.

Persaud then advised them to be a part of AGRIFEST at the National Stadium on October 31 as a way of securing markets.

Meanwhile he took the opportunity to ask Jamaica’s Minister of Commerce Michael Stern who was in Guyana on a business trip and joined the team on the visit to take note of the women’s concerns about markets.

Stern, who promised to assist in that regard, advised the people “to try and do as much as you can to create wealth in your community. Through that wealth creation you would become more sustainable and your children would have a better life…”

He said too that if they take advantage of all the assistance that they were getting they would have a successful community. He even promised to return one day to enjoy some of what they produce. The community had received computers for a state-of-the-art computer laboratory which is currently being housed at the primary school until a building which is currently being constructed for lab is completed. The building, according to the Toshao, would also be used for farmers’ training.

Persaud mentioned that on a previous visit residents had complained that the computers could not be used because the area only gets electricity at nights and that a generator has since been provided.

The residents said the community is having problems accessing potable water and Regional Chairman Harrinarine Baldeo informed residents that Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali would be visiting this week.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs Nigel Dharamlall who was also part of the team told the Amerindians that the ministry intends to continue serve them and that the budget proposed for next year is bigger.

Dharamlall said too that all Amerindian villages are considered vulnerable and that the ministry has recently launched a Database Management Information System to capture all the problems affecting them as well as the proposed solutions.

Source: Stabroek News

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