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Denbigh showing impresses Guyanese official

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2015 | 8:00 AM

George Jervis, permanent secretary in Guyana's Ministry of Agriculture who attended all three days of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, is very impressed with the diverse range and quality of goods and services Jamaica has to offer, from which he believes Guyana can benefit.

Jervis told The Gleaner he was on a mission to seek out best practices in agriculture and meet with officials in the portfolio, with a view to adapting those that are practical for helping improve agriculture in Guyana. He was particularly impressed by the operations of the HEART Trust/NTA Ebony Park Academy in Clarendon.

"There are many things here that are very interesting. However, the HEART Trust, with its concept of targeted agricultural education, that is very hands-on and makes the students very exposed to agriculture as a business in a scientific way, is the thing that resonates most with me."

The structure and operations of commodity boards such as the All-Island Banana Growers' Association (AIBGA), Coffee Industry Board and Jamaica Dairy Development Board were also other areas that impressed the Guyanese government official.

"I am also very happy to see how various commodities are organised and those seem to be well run, very organised and well-thought-out things that people make money with, so those things I would like to emulate when I go back to Guyana," the permanent secretary disclosed.

"Guyana is not organised along those lines. The government still plays a great role in all of those things, Jervis disclosed.

"That is what I think helps to hold it (agriculture in Guyana) back, because what we need to do is have the private sector pick up these things and run with it and make money out of it on their own strength," Jervis said.

However, there is still a pivotal role for the State in developing the agricultural sector.

"The Government's role is to provide technical support, to provide an enabling support and, as far as possible, step in when there is trouble to assist the industry because we have to be focused on not just profitability but food and security for our people. Also, the government's role has to be to ensure that the laws are observed that the environment is not damaged and that everyone makes a dollar from what they do."

Jervis promised to use his office to apply some of the best practices from Jamaica to improve agriculture in the Guyanese sector.

He told The Gleaner: "For sure, I will go and sensitise the industry. I will speak to the people who are in charge of livestock, in charge of crops, in charge of fisheries, because fisheries is one of the areas that we will have to look and see what Jamaica is doing and try to emulate that."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com