Don't neglect food security in pursuit of oil - UG Vice-Chancellor
The University of Guyana is keen to widen its educational offers to include the oil and gas sector, but in this pursuit Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, has warned that there is a role for the university in maintaining Guyana’s food security. “We also recognize that we cannot neglect who we essentially are,” Professor Griffith told students at oil and gas presentation held on the university’s Turkeyen campus on Wednesday last.
He added, “We are an agricultural society and we will not do ourselves and prosperity well to neglect the agriculture sector.” According to Prof. Griffith, a feasibility team to look at establishing a food and nutrition institute at the university has been established. The team met for the first time in January to start the journey of ensuring that in partnership with other entities in Guyana and internationally, the university plays a vital role in food security.
One of the international agencies supporting the initiative is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which has provided US$5000 to start the study. Prof. Griffith noted that the university wants to ensure that connectivity with natural science, agriculture, earth and environmental science and social science, will enable partnerships with National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI), Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), Ministry of Education and public health. “We don’t neglect food security, especially since there is an opportunity for Guyana, not only in regard to the Caribbean, but in regard to being part of South America where we have some competitive advantage, but we need to stop viewing it as potential and we need to actualize it,” Prof. Griffith stated.
In relation to preparing the University for the oil and gas sector, Prof. Griffith said that they are ramping up what is being done across all faculties. He suggested changing the name of the faculty of technology while still catering for current programmes such as industrial and mechanical engineering. “Whether you want to do simply petroleum engineering or as we have committed to not neglecting mechanical, electrical and civil, we’ve got to do better physics, we got to do better chemistry, we got to do better math. The investments, we are going to argue, will have to do the whole of the university,” Prof. Griffith pointed out.
He outlined that the university is being proactive in its approach to the oil and gas sector by reaching out to other entities to establish partnerships. Prof. Griffith stated that he sent a member of the law department to an oil and gas seminar last year. In addition, last year, teams were sent to the University of Alberta, Canada and the University of the West Indies, Trinidad campus. “We cannot wait until all is available here for us to do what we need to do. We’ve got to partner. We have to develop and be prepared to offer relevant courses in the oil and gas industry,” Prof. Griffith stated. There are plans to engage experts in the oil and gas industry for a series of talks dubbed, Campus Conversations, which will aim to educate students and faculty members on the emerging sector.
NOTE: The grant from the FAO for the feasibility study is US $50, 000 and not US $5,000
FAO to fund UG's establishment of food and nutrition institute; studies on agriculture
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has announced that it will be supporting the establishment of a Food and Nutrition Institute at the University of Guyana (UG) and help that tertiary institution conduct several studies on climate change related to the agriculture sector.
The announcements were made by the FAO Representative in Guyana, Reuben Robertson at the 10th Turkeyen and Tain Talks, a public forum on various national issues that is organised and held periodically by UG.
He said the US$30,000 institute, which would be established at the Turkeyen Campus, is a tangible contribution to partner with UG in its ongoing leading role in Guyana’s development.
Saying that the focus on food and nutrition security is in line with its global, regional and local commitments, Robertson said FAO and UG would work together towards the establishment of the institute. “Our goal will be to work with the university to strengthen this programme with the expectation that in the final analysis the national capacities will be enhanced and moreover good governance will be established for food and nutrition security throughout Guyana,” he said.
The FAO representative said food and nutrition security is at the helm of FAO’s programme in keeping with its global, Caribbean and local commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations.
He also announced that the FAO would be providing US$100,000 to UG to help that tertiary education institution conduct a number of socioeconomic and environmental studies next year that will feed into the national comprehensive proposal for adaptation to climate change in the agriculture sector.
With the university heightening its public visibility and contribution to discussions on a wide variety of issues of national concern through the now one year old Turkeyen and Tain Talks, Robertson hailed UG’s thrust in forging partnerships.
“The university is on the right path, forging smart partnerships for resource mobilization, enhancing the quality of the programmes it delivers, while at the same time expanding into new frontiers including research and the provision of high quality technical services,” he said.
The FAO, a specialised technical assistance agency of the United Nations, is leading the charge in environmental and social safeguards and standards, classify risks and build resilience to cope with the impact of climate change.
- The University of Guyana