The Ministry of Agriculture’s Agriculture Sector Development Unit (ASDU) today facilitated the launch of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Sustainable Development Programme (SADP), which is set to benefit over 29,000 households in regions five, nine and ten.
A US $15 million loan was allocated for this project with the long term objective being increased productivity in the agriculture sector while maintaining sustainable and climate resilient use of Guyana’s natural resources. The loan agreement which was signed between the Government of Guyana and the IDB will be implemented over a six-year period.
The launch took place in the Ministry’s boardroom and is the official opening of a three-day workshop which will see participation from stakeholders in the agriculture sector engaging in training exercises to improve the monitoring and evaluation, planning, implementation aspects of the SADP.
Mr. Juan de Dios Mattos, IDB Team Leader, in reviewing the loan contract, highlighted the three important sections in the agreement which focuses on specific areas of agricultural development.
Of the three components, component one focuses on generating information for evidence – based policy making and natural resources management. This involves reviewing and designing an appropriate Agricultural Information System, training of MOA and Bureau of Statistics (BOS) staff and the preparation and implementation of an Agricultural Census. Component two focuses on strengthening the agricultural innovation and extension system while Component three focuses on giving support for compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
“The contract caters for Environmental and Social Safeguards. There is also a section that facilitates the evaluation process. There are specific guidelines in the contract that need to be followed and deadlines that have to be met in order for the project to be successfully completed in a timely manner.” Mr. Mattos said.
IDB Country Representative, Ms. Sophie Makonnen, in giving an overview of the bank’s involvement in the project stressed the importance of planning.
“When dealing with large sums of money, you need to be able to plan and have a solid plan to guide you. Also, because this is such an important sector, planning plays an important role in ensuring areas with a direct need for development are given the opportunity to benefit from programs such as these.” Ms. Makonnen said.
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, in delivering the feature address, indicated that the project is another step in the right direction for Guyana as the Ministry continuously works to develop its capacity in the areas of marketing, strategic policy, research, and innovation.
The Ministry of Agriculture is positioning itself to play a major part in increasing the productivity of the agricultural sector while maintaining a sustainable and climate resilient use of natural resources in Guyana. According to the Agriculture Minister, the project speaks directly to building the country’s green economy whilst providing a good life to all Guyanese.
“The agricultural sector is expected to make a major contribution to our development of a green state by contributing to food and nutrition security, poverty eradication, adaptation to climate change, building resilience in the sector, increase in employment to name a few. The Ministry is also expected to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda, through inputs in the areas of livestock, fisheries, crops, irrigation and drainage, pesticide management and control and, marketing. The collective interventions by the major sectors are required to ensure a more coordinated and harmonized policy approach.” Minister Holder added.
Head of the Project Cycle Management Division Ministry of Finance, Mr. Tarachand Balgobin highlighted that with financial resources being scarce, this loan illustrates the importance of the agriculture sector to the development of the country.
“Agriculture is a pivotal component on which development stands. It is the backbone of the development of the country and it is important that we bridge the divide between the coast and the hinterland as the traditional base of agriculture development is being deflected from the coast. This is being done to develop the vast potential of agriculture within the hinterland. I urge the ASDU to effectively employ the resources made available through this loan.” Mr. Balgobin said.
In offering welcoming remarks, Permanent Secretary (ag.) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Joylyn Nester-Burrowes alluded to the fact that the project which offers assistance in the area of sustainable development is an important area of which the Ministry can capitalize on.
“This project will facilitate a long-awaited agriculture census. I would like to thank the IDB for this loan and I urge the executing body to make good use of the resources made available through this loan.” Mrs. Nester-Burrowes said.
According to Nester-Burrowes over the years the IDB has been generous in the undertaking of projects of such magnitude which have been successful, making specific reference to the Agriculture Support Services Programme (ASSP). The ASSP project which was conducted over a six-year period saw a number of vulnerable farming communities targeted.
Minister Holder also indicated that the vision of the government for the agricultural sector is to provide technical support for a robust, evidence-based and effective planning platform which will facilitate the development of a modernized, productive, efficient and competitive agriculture sector that contributes to sustainable economic growth.
“To do this, it all starts with our ability to produce high-quality data for the agricultural sector. Component 1 of this project will give us this. Moreover, it will be our first Agricultural Census in 65 years, an event which is supposed to happen every 10 years. With this focus on Guyana’s vital agricultural sector, information from this Census will give our planners and policymakers an understanding of the progress and future prospects of all agricultural industries and their products, and of our farm practices. It will also help farmers, policymakers and others involved in the industry to determine strategies to ensure sustainable farming.” Minister Holder said.
The project will also cater for institutional coordination through the forming of a National Steering Committee (NSC) and a Regional Management Committee that will comprise of representatives from the Ministries of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Business, Natural Resources, Finance, Office of Climate Change, Ministry of the Presidency, the Regional Chairman and a regional representative of the programme’s targeted beneficiaries.