(GuyanaChronicle)Guyana to lean on India for advice, President Ali says
RECOGNISING that India is a powerhouse in millet production, Guyanese authorities are looking to leverage expertise from the Asian nation to advance this country’s food security efforts.
During a virtual address at the two-day Global Millet Conference in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, highlighted that India is the largest millet producer globally and is also assuming global leadership in advancing the objective of addressing one of the world’s most foremost challenges which is food security.
Based on India’s proposal, the year 2023 was declared the International Year of Millets (IYM) by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“The declaration of this international year is linked to the recognition that hunger and food insecurity are potent threats to the attainment of the sustainable development goals,” Dr. Ali said.
He added that the production of millet has the potential to be a game changer in ensuring greater food security across the world.
Millets are a group of cereal grains that belong to the Poaceae family, commonly known as the grass family. The grains are usually grounded into flour to make various foods. While it may look like a seed, the millet’s nutritional profile is similar to that of sorghum and other cereals.
Its high nutritional properties and resilience in adapting to hot and dry climatic conditions provide an affordable and nutritious option to addressing food insecurity, the Guyanese Head-of-State emphasised.
“Guyana has identified the production of millets as having great potential towards enhancing national and regional food security. As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) implements vision 25 by 2025 to reduce the food import bill by approximately $US1 billion by 2025, millet is an ideal solution to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains,” he said.
The Government of Guyana has already set aside some 200 acres of land for exclusive millet production. Technical guidance and support will be provided by the Indian Government which will see Guyana becoming a mass producer in the Caribbean and Latin regions.
“Guyana looks forward to strengthening its co-operation with India to kickstart large, medium and small-scale production of millets. India is the largest net producer in the world. Guyana hopes to embark soon on the sustainable production of millets,” he said.
Dr. Ali said Guyana is considered an ideal ecozone with optimum conditions for the growth and development of millets. The country’s warm climate allows for the conducive soil temperature that is essential for the sprouting and germination of the millet seeds based on the minimal soil and climatic requirements.
Trials will be conducted in Regions Four, Nine and 10 before large scale product begins.
“These identified areas represent the profit zone in which similar crops like corn and soya are adaptive and are being produced on a large scale,” the President said, adding, “Together we can achieve sustainable development, eliminate hunger, adapt to climate change, and transform agri-food systems by exploring every viable opportunity.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha and his team participated in a round-table discussion with India’s Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, and Ministers of Agriculture from other countries such as Sudan, Mauritius, Gambia, Zambia, and Suriname.
The main focus of that discussion was to foster millet production in these countries in an effort to increase food security and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the global population through healthy and nutritious food, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its Facebook page.
The discussion was held at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, New Delhi.
Two ministers at a separate engagement discussed possible areas of co-operation which include millet production in Guyana and the modernisation of Guyana’s agriculture sector.
Also in attendance at the conference were international scientists, nutritionists, health experts, start-up leaders and other stakeholders from around the world.
In January, President Ali led a team to India where several discussions were held and areas of collaboration were explored. Outside of millet production, discussions were held on the advancement of the country’s sugar, rice and other productive industries.