The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday officially launched the Caribbean Agricultural Productivity Improvement Activity (CAPA), a programme that aims at increasing food security efforts, while strengthening the livelihoods of farmers locally.
The three-year $5.3 million project will focus on providing support to farmers to increase the production of fruit and vegetables, and building connections between consumers. It will also input suppliers, and help with improving farm-level extension systems.
Additionally, the project will utilise an integrated value chain approach to support value addition and practical storage solutions to preserve shelf life while easing the implementation of on-farm technology like climate-smart practices and shade shelters to boost yields.
During the launch held at the University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha said the implementation of the programme is being executed at a critical time, where the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war continue to present immense challenges for global food security.
The agriculture minister noted that heavy investments have been pumped into the agriculture sector to advance food productivity over the years.
This fits into the collective regional food security policies and aggressive food security agenda to achieve the ambitious 25 by 2025 goal.
“I am particularly encouraged by the intention of this project… All of the far-reaching benefits that this project promises can be divorced from other related regional goals such as the reduction of our food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. In fact, all of the commodities that are being targeted in this project are identified as priority commodities in some form under the 25 by 2025 programme,” Minister Mustapha stated.
In Guyana, he said hundreds of young people are also benefiting from the Agriculture Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme (AIEP).
Over 300 youths from Regions Two, Five, and Ten will benefit from the hydroponics project.
CAPA will be rolled out in Guyana, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
US Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot asserted that the CAPA programme is an important milestone in US-Guyana and Caribbean relations in addressing food insecurity regionally.
CAPA aims to lessen the region’s poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition, which are made worse by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, inflation, and climate change.
Ambassador Theriot highlighted that the US Government is supporting its partners in the region to address the unique and evolving climate, energy, food security, and capacity challenges facing Caribbean nations.
USAID Regional Representative, Mervyn Farroe, UG’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin and other officials also delivered remarks.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed by UG’s Vice Chancellor, and Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC) CAPA’s Programme Director, Sandford Edwards, to advance policy recommendations and help to mobilise additional technical and financial resources.
It will also improve the turmeric value chain in Guyana, Suriname, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
CAPA is implemented by IESC and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).