President Granger was reported to have said that “Guyana’s vast landscape can serve as a ‘gift’ to Caribbean islands devastated by recent hurricanes”. But I ask why can’t this land better serve the world?
It is a developmental disability when a country cannot grow its population locally. So while the number of born Guyanese is growing globally, because of massive migration, the local population has been stuck around 750,000 for decades now. This is an inhibitor for Guyana to progress.
On that note why not use Guyana’s intermediate savannah as the land to better serve the world? The UN has reported that millions of people are fleeing their homeland, not because they want to but because they have to. For example Syria, Burma, and Libya. Why can’t our policymakers think out of the box and engage the UN to fund, relocate, house, provide tools of work and feed 200,000 people in Guyana from Syria, Burma, Libya, and the Caribbean (50,000 each) as international citizens who are temporarily resident in land that is currently being underutilized by Guyana – I speak of the intermediate savannah, specifically around the former National Service Centre at Kimbia. Guyana can contribute the land and the seedlings from NAREI. The UN and the international donor community, on the other hand, will do the heavy lifting and will contribute the tractors, the agriculture tools, the irrigation system, the agricultural technicians, the fertilizers, the pesticide, the seed capital, the market for the products and every other thing that can make these people into productive world citizens.
Guyana can use the help of the Canadians who have mastered the art of screening refugees and select those with clean security records and with basic skills in agriculture. Also, attention will have to be paid to ensuring there is gender balance to contribute to social progress in those resettlement areas. Some might say, why relocate people to Guyana when we cannot even help our own? The answer is, right now all that land lies waste around Kimbia and all Guyana will be doing is providing a safe space for people who are homeless and for whom the UN and the international donor community will be willing to financially support. This project will actually be cash positive for Guyana if it structures it competently.
I had the privilege of sharing this idea with David Miliband, the CEO of the International Rescue Committee, who was also a former Foreign Minister of the UK.
On a side note, as I child I remembering visiting the Guyana-Libya Agriculture Project in Berbice when the Libyan people provided much help to our country when it was bankrupt. Shouldn’t we offer some of their people help now?
So I welcome the call by President Granger, but his call would have been so much more relevant and effective if it was a world call offering land to the UN to ease their administrative burden in resettling refugees, rather than confining his call to the Caribbean.