A number of smallholder farmers who were affected by the 2021 floods nationwide will receive agricultural and livestock inputs valued $27.2 million (US $136,000) over the life of the project.
The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Tuesday, handed over the inputs to the Ministry of Agriculture, through its project dubbed, “Emergency Response and Early Recovery Support to Smallholder Farmers Affected by the 2021 Floods in Guyana and Suriname.”
The support will be extended to farmers through the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA).
FAO’s Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Dr. Gillian Smith, said the organisation is always pleased to assist the agriculture ministry, and the ongoing effort would provide support in agriculture disaster risk management and flood recovery and response.
“Today, what we would like to do is our first handover of agriculture and livestock inputs to the Ministry of Agriculture. We have here hand tools, fertilisers… today’s input is approximately $8.9 million and for the entire life of the project, we are looking at an estimated US $136, 000 of support,” Dr. Smith stated.
During the ceremony at the ministry’s boardroom, Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, said the initiative also caters for $5.8 million (US $29,000) to train farmers and technical officers.
“This is a testimony to FAO’s commitment in helping smallholder farmers to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
You would have recalled His Excellency, in August of last year, made a commitment to bring relief to the persons, or those farmers who were affected,” Minister Mustapha emphasised.
He said due to the government’s intervention, some 50,000 affected farmers have received assistance, noting that the relief initiative is ongoing across the country.
“Today is another support from our partner in helping the agriculture sector, because as a government, we recognise the importance of agriculture to our economy…
we recognise that for our country to be successful, we have to develop our agriculture sector first of all to have food security nationally, and to help our sister countries in the Caricom to also achieve food security,” Minister Mustapha added.
With the Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali led Administration at the helm of the nation, Guyana has achieved the leading seat to drive the agri-food system in the Caribbean. Therefore, the country has to set the example in the collective regional effort to reduce the food import bill by 25 per cent in 2025.
“These agricultural inputs, as well as capacity building exercises, will continue for two years and will contribute greatly to reducing the vulnerability of our farming communities, supporting farming businesses and reducing the increasing threat on the nation’s food security,” Minister Mustapha stated.
Further, he said his ministry recognises the effects of climate change on the agriculture sector and subsequently the livelihoods of farmers.
NAREI’s Chief Executive officer, Jagnarine Singh explained that the distribution process will benefit about 200 farmers in Regions Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten. He said the first phase of the project for NAREI will run for six months.
Meanwhile, GLDA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Dwight Walrond thanked the FAO for making the inputs available to the farming community, while noting that the gesture is important in ensuring the maintenance of food security, production and productivity.
Meanwhile, DPI spoke with two of the beneficiaries, who expressed thanks to the FOA and the Ministry of Agriculture for the joint undertaking.
Rice and cash crop farmer, Neville Ramadar said he suffered great loss after the floods. “…my lettuce, pepper, callaloo, passionfruit…likewise with the rice I lost a lot, 12 acres. The donation is good because it will help me get back on the soil and start again,” Ramadar told DPI.
Another farmer, Bibi Waheeda Hamid of Rosignol, said she was thankful for the donations.