The Government of Guyana and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Development Fund (CDF) yesterday inked Loan and Grant Agreements for a project which is expected to see significant improvements to the
agricultural infrastructure for small scale farming in Guyana – particularly in Administrative Regions, Four (Demerara/Mahaica) and Five (Mahaica/Berbice).
The CDF provides technical assistance to countries, regions and sectors in CARICOM to enhance their prospects for successful competition within the community, and to redress any negative impact of the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
It was revealed at the signing yesterday that under these agreements, the CDF will provide a loan to the tune of US$6,625,000 and a grant of US$3,807,263 totalling US$10.4M (approximately G$2.15B) to facilitate infrastructural improvements and create employment in small scale farming communities such as Mocha, Beterverwagting/Triumph, Buxton and Ithaca. The Guyana Government will provide an additional US$2M to ensure the full implementation of this project.
It was revealed also that these areas require urgent intervention, since severe flooding of farmlands, inadequate drainage systems and neglect of small scale farming have impeded agricultural development.
Additionally, heavy equipment will be procured to facilitate the rehabilitative works in these selected areas, providing access to land for farming and necessary support services.
Further, a fruits and vegetable and dairy farm will be established at President’s College to promote and develop climate-resilient agricultural programmes in schools.
It is anticipated that with the improved drainage and access, the new farmlands will be brought under cultivation, with a variety of crops and fruits being targeted for production to meet the needs of the community and surrounding villages – and with an eye on exports.
Signing the agreement on behalf of the Guyana Government was Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan. Present at the ceremony was also, the Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder and officials from his Ministry including Permanent Secretary, George Jervis, along with representatives of several entities, namely the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA); Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) of Ithaca, Buxton, Triumph and Mocha: National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and President’s College.
Signing on behalf of the CDF was its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rodinald Soomer, who told the gathering that the areas being targeted, have a combined population of 1,200 farmers, thereby potentially impacting the lives of close to 35,000 individuals. He added also that 155 kilometres of canals and drains will be constructed; both new and rehabilitated structures; along with 40 kilometres of fair weather dam and one pump station.
Soomer said that these interventions will allow farmers to reclaim an initial 2,500 acres of abandoned land, and to bring them back into cultivation, which will result in increased production and increased opportunities to restore agricultural exports to the CARICOM Market.
The investment in Guyana, the CEO said, is being made possible by virtue of the State making its agreed contribution of US$3,807,263 (approximately G$786.3M) to the CDF which allowed it to access US$10,432,263 (approximately G$2.15B) effectively obtaining US$2.74 for every US$1.0 contributed.
The Ministry of Finance in a subsequent release stated that the inking of these agreements is yet another demonstration of the emerging “robust” relationship between the Government of Guyana and the CDF. It added also that the project builds on the overall strategic development of the agriculture sector, especially as Government seeks to enhance the livelihood of rural, long ‘neglected’ village communities – amongst other development strategies.
The release further stated that Guyana has benefitted previously, from financing to the tune of US$11,879,901 for the upgrading of farm access roads in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), Four, and Five, contributing to increasing sustainable agricultural production all year.
“Specifically, a total of 32km of asphaltic concrete and all-weather roads were constructed and rehabilitated in Parika, Ruby and Laluni. Guyana’s performance has been deemed impressive, as these works were successfully completed on time and within budget. More importantly, Guyana was the first country to pay in full, its assessed contribution to the fund, for replenishment of the CDF for the second funding cycle.” The release stated.
This made Guyana eligible for financing of its second Country Assistance Programme (CAP) and became the first Member State to benefit from this cycle of CDF funding. This project will build on, and be complemented by the Sustainable Agricultural Development Programme supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of US$15M, and the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Project supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the tune of US$10.8M.
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