The two-day conference of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) opened on Monday at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), under the theme “Agriculture: Guyana’s Pathway to a Green Economy”.Addressing the gathering at the opening of the conference, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder said the agriculture sector was faced with significant challenges that required solutions based on research and innovation.Research, he said, plays an integral role in providing a sound base for the development and implementation of Guyana’s agricultural policy. “In particular, research can provide the knowledge base for taking decisions and long-termA section of those who participated in NAREI’s Research Conference at the Guyana School of Agriculture, Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara4planning that are needed to cope with the challenges. Research by 2030 and beyond will play a key role in improving the sustainability and diversity of our food systems, finding solutions for wastage and reducing the global loss of biodiversity, which is nearly 60 per cent.”Minister Holder said that Guyana’s future research agenda must give priority to sustainable and inclusive economic development. Targeted research will help to address the challenges of food production, management of natural resources and a balanced development of coastland and hinterland areas.The Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that the Minister added that the Ministry must continue to build research and innovation capacity for lower performing regions. Each region has its own competitive advantage; therefore, he said the Ministry must capitalise on these to expand agriculture in each region. For instance, in Region One (Pomeroon-Supenaam), the spices – turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper and ginger – have been successful, and in Region Nine (Upper Essequibo), mangoes, peanuts, cattle, small ruminants and orchard crops prosper.“Don’t limit your research to just fresh produce. Just as you did by adding value with establishing a spice factory, let us target the high-value, low-volume products…Our researchers and scientists must be futuristic. As Guyana emerges as a major oil and gas producer, we must think transformative in our research,” Minister Holder urged.NAREI’s Board Chairman, Dr Patrick Chesney reiterated the Institute’s commitment to support research in all of the ten administrative regions of Guyana. “It is my intention as Chairman of the Board to take to the Board a measure of the installation and wise use of cooperative and collaborative research and extension infrastructural programmes in all of our regions.”NAREI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Oudho Homenauth noted that while the Institute’s development programmes have been reoriented from time to time on the basis of national and global changes, new challenges confronted today to warrant a renewed concept of agriculture.The conference focused on topics such as the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), hinterland agriculture – Guyana’s new agriculture frontier, climate-smart practices, improving production and productivity, green agriculture practices, and agriculture health and food safety issues.Among those who are participating in the two-day conference are farmers and representatives of farmers’ organisations and agriculture agencies.