Feb 10, 2009 News Comments Off on Indigenous communities need to diversify their economies – Jagdeo
“…. rural residents play vital role in natural resource management”– Agri. Minister
By Tusika Martin
There is need for indigenous communities to diversify their respective economies, in order to be less dependent on traditional crops — more specifically, the forest.
This is according to President Bharrat Jagdeo, who recently told the media that he has always been advocating for these communities to be less dependent on the forest.
He told the media that, during the upcoming national consultations on his ‘Avoided Deforestation’ initiative, discussions about spending larger sums of money in areas such as more fibre optic cables into the country to reduce the cost of bandwidth, and getting more jobs for young people will be addressed.
According to the Head of State, once jobs can be created, people would rely less in future on the forest as a source of income.
Whilst improvements in the areas of access to education, health, water, housing are being done, he said, this will not significantly change the villages’ economies much, because of the distance indigenous communities are from the Coast.
Citing the North West as an example, the Head of State said that if the villagers grow ‘ground provisions,’ they cannot get the crops to the Coast quickly enough.
He said that the idea of being paid for standing forest is to get the capital and create some mechanism whereby the villagers themselves would participate through technical discussions to transform the village economies.
This will allow them, he said, to continue growing crops that they need to eat, but also have some export potential or an activity that would generate income for the village.
Monitoring and verification of the forest, he noted, is critical; but if the forest is to be preserved, and if Guyana is going to get paid for doing so, then the harvesting of trees will have to be scrutinized.
This, the Head of State said, does not mean that forest harvesting activity will not take place, but it will be done under strict monitoring.
“I have argued that we have been cutting our forest for hundreds of years now but we still have a dense forest cover because of the way we do it.
You have to get an exploratory permit, submit a multi-year plan, an annual plan, before you touch a single tree,” he said, as he pointed out the process.
Beginning from January this year, timber companies that do not have forestry concessions in Guyana have not been allowed to export logs.
This decision is in keeping with an announcement by President Jagdeo to deter the exportation of the forest product and to allow for more value-added activities in the country.
The Guyana Forestry Commission log export policy states that it is a mechanism to encourage much more value-added production in the country.
Over the next three years, the GFC will be assessing the impact of this policy and determine exporters’ processing capabilities.
This assessment would guide the next option as to whether they will leave the export commission at 12 percent or increase it, or move in the direction of greater restriction.
Meanwhile, the recently launched Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project, which includes hinterland communities, is aimed at improving the living conditions of poor rural households, especially small-scale producers and vulnerable groups, increasing their human, social, and financial assets.
Minister of Agriculture with responsibilities for Forestry, Robert Persaud, during the launching of the project, said that since rural people manage vast areas of land and forest, they are important players in the natural resource management and carbon sequestration, but are usually without significant compensation.
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