Friday, December 31, 2010

Amerindian Affairs Ministry highlights 2010 successes

GUYANA - The first harvest of pineapples in the hinterland is expected in September with some 76,300 pineapples planted on 21.8 acres of land by 38 farmers, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai said yesterday.

Highlighting the successes seen by her ministry in 2010 in a year-end report, the minister pointed to the Hinterland Secure Livelihoods Programme, under which several farming projects have been undertaken. In addition to the cultivation of pineapples, which saw $11.4 million expended, there is the $3.6 million cassava project which involves 45 farmers and includes the construction of a $1.3 million processing building.

Some $8.6 million has been expended on a ginger project, the minister said and a 26KVA generator has been acquired which will provide power to the processing plant. The building was completed this year to the tune of $1 million and 27 farmers are involved in this project.

As regards aquaculture, $25 million has been acquired for the rearing of hassars. Three out of the four ponds for the rearing of the fish have been completed and it is expected that this will be the main fish cultivated.

The passion fruit and citrus project meanwhile has seen 42 acres of passion fruit under cultivation and it is expected that the orange citrus cultivation begin shortly with some $8.4 million and 29 farmers involved in the project.

A $14.6 million bee-keeping project has seen 92 bee hives built and in operation with small amounts of honey being harvested by 42 farmers. It is expected that by the end of this year the additional hives will be completed.

The minister noted that the market for these crops is local but the ministry is in discussions with Demerara Distillers Ltd in relation to the passion fruits for the Topco fruit juice brand.

Meanwhile in relation to demarcation of Amerindian lands, the minister said three areas were demarcated during 2010 and the cost was in excess of $40 million. And in relation to the distribution of solar panels, some 1,000 50-watt panels have been distributed to household in various Amerindian villages.

Meanwhile Sukhai also pointed to the $10 million presidential grant for various projects. Some 58% have been used up from this fund she said. As regards the remainder, she said “the villages had proffered a number of reasons why they were not ready to uplift their presidential grant and that is that they would like us to hold it in the Amerindian fund so that when the next tranche is disbursed to us so that they will have enough money to address the project…”

With regard to the education sector, Sukhai said that over the year, the Hinterland Scholarship Programme saw 72 students benefiting. She pointed out that Treasure James of President College had done exceedingly well this year in exams from the scholarship programme.

Sukhai added that the ministry has taken a more comprehensive approach to the school uniform project and seeks to provide each child with a school uniform. Sixty-three million dollars was expended on this project in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine which benefited 27,643 hinterland students.

Meanwhile as regards the welfare of Amerindian people, the minister said that 75 persons received assistance from the ministry for referrals, CT scans and transportation cost. And the minister added that 78 social welfare cases ranging from domestic abuse, labour issues and other general issues were dealt with by the ministry.

The Amerindian Affairs Ministry said that all programmes pursued by the ministry have been fairly successful.

Source: Stabroek News

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