Home > Development > President challenges fisheries sector to find ways to increase local demand– as inaugural Fisherfolks Convention begins

President challenges fisheries sector to find ways to increase local demand– as inaugural Fisherfolks Convention begins

President Bharrat Jagdeo speaking during the Fisherfolks Convention at the GICC (GINA Photo)

LILIENDAAL –Guyana’s fisheries sector benefits a population of over 15,000 and President Bharrat Jagdeo today challenged stakeholders in the sector to devise instrumental ways of increasing local demand for marine products.

The Head of State was at the time addressing a large gathering of fisherfolks and representatives of fisheries associations at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal at the inaugural Fisherfolks Convention.

The event which coincides with Fisherman’s Day seeks to examine opportunities and challenges that the fisheries sector is facing in the global environment.

Among those present were Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, Chairman of the Georgetown Fishermen Co-op Society Mohammed Khan, Chairman of the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG) Beni Sankar, President of the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors Bruce Vieira and Lystra Fletcher Paul from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

President Jagdeo acknowledged the contributions made by fishermen under trying circumstances and highlighted the leading role the sector plays in Guyana’s low carbon vision.

Because of this importance, the President said that some of the resources that are to be gained from the trade in eco-system services will have to be directed to the fisheries sector at some point in time.

The Head of State expressed the hope that the conference focuses on meaningful interaction to confront the global challenges affecting the fisheries sector.

“There are several real problems that the sector faces and unless these problems are addressed then we would not see the sector grow at the pace we would like it to grow,” President Jagdeo said.

The global recession triggered by the housing crisis in the United States of America and its effect on global demand particularly for food commodities was highlighted as by the President as one of the main challenges.

“It is estimated that some 50 million people lost their jobs within the last two years and don’t have money to do a number of things that they did before including purchasing food,” President Jagdeo said.

Even as the situation seems to be returning to some level of normalcy, President Jagdeo said there is now a fear that global demand will either remain dormant for a long period or economies will face another recession.

Such predictions can have serious implications for the fisheries sector in Guyana, since locally grown fish grown supplies the global market to a large extent.

“On occasions you may have to export to a market that is not very good for the next few years,” President Jagdeo said.

The domestic market has however, shown positive signs throughout the crisis period, evidenced by the growth in disposable income and simultaneously it has led to a growth in the fast food industry, according to President Jagdeo.

He believes that this presents an opportunity for the fisheries sector to grow and meet the demand in the fast food industry and called on the stakeholders to find instrumental ways of achieving this objective if international demand fails.

“We have to constantly work at increasing productivity,” President Jagdeo said

Government has shown its commitment as reflected in the “energetic” work of the Ministry of Agriculture in creating the necessary policy environment.

He however highlighted the need for more research and disclosed that efforts are being made to fund research to determine the potential of the country’s deep sea resources which he described as “under fished.”

The importance of improved infrastructure in the fisheries sector was also highlighted by the President who made reference to efforts by the government to help small farmers aspiring to start businesses in aquaculture.

The Government also plans to purchase an excavator dedicated to digging ponds and a special vehicle for extension services.

“We want to work with some of the small farmers to ensure they have the starting capital input,” President Jagdeo said as he signalled his willingness to also establish a special credit facility for small fisherman similar to the ones offered to single parents and housing. (GINA)

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