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Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha has announced that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration is working to increase food production in Guyana. However, a Guyanese economist with whom this publication consulted said that the PPP regime may be missing the point. The local economist with experience in the agricultural sector said that, “The critical problem regarding food in Guyana is not insufficient production, but rather, ineffective and inefficient distribution mechanisms.” Other international experts have expressed similar views.
The agriculture minister announced that, “Government has invested heavily in every area of the agriculture sector in order to double production, since taking office in August 2020.”
Minister Mustapha added that, “Overall, it is clear that the PPP Government is taking an active approach to increase agricultural production.”
The Guyanese economist who asked to remain anonymous explained the following referred this publication to a report by The Borgen Project.
The report states that, “Guyana is a country located on the northeast corner of South America. Due to economic growth and increased agricultural productivity, hunger in Guyana has dropped by almost 50 per cent. Though food availability is not a problem, making food accessible to the rural and remote populations remains the major challenge.
The report lists 3 facts about food availability in Guyana.
- Between 50,000 and 60,000 Guyanese suffer from undernourishment.Though about 21% of the Guyanese population suffered from malnutrition in previous decades, that number was reduced to less than 10% in 2015 [under the APNU+AFC Coalition administration].
- Guyana met an internationally established target in the fight against hunger.Guyana halved the number of malnourished people between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, being one of 38 countries to do so.
- Raising agricultural productivity helps counter hunger.Over 70% of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This means that if agricultural productivity increases, access to food may improve.
The local expert said that while raising production is good, a holistic approach is required. He said, “That comprehensive approach to achieving food security must necessarily include effective distribution, and reduction of wastage; raising production is secondary at this stage; increasing efficiency is far more important in 2023.”
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) lists 5 pillars of food security: