As part of the Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID) project, which is being funded by the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) in collaboration with the Government of Guyana to the tune of US$12 million, four new cooperative unions are being formed so that farmers in the target communities can access funds more efficiently.
Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder told Stabroek News on Monday that the project involves the restoration and upgrade of drainage and irrigation canals in specified farming communities as well as the purchase of farming equipment.
Approximately half of the US$12 million has been set aside for drainage upgrade and the purchase of the pumps, with the remainder set to be released through the co-operatives.
“It is difficult to give a farmer a tractor to farm five acres of land. A tractor doesn’t make sense but if it were 100 acres of land, then a tractor is a prudent purchase. So we are bringing people together so that the funds can be accessed efficiently and expended effectively,” Holder explained.
In December, 2016, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan signed the loan-grant agreement with the CDF for US$10.4 million. At the time, he had explained that the money would be used to revitalise agriculture and address unemployment in several “neglected” villages.
Four villages–Ithaca, West Coast Berbice; Triumph and Buxton, East Coast Demerara; and Mocha, East Bank Demerara–were identified as the target communities and Jordan indicated that the government would contribute a further US$2 million to ensure the project is implemented fully.
At the time, CDF Chief Executive Officer Rodinald Soomer had said that the agreement would deliver US$10 million of concessional assistance to Guyana for the purchase of farming equipment that will remain resident in the identified communities, to finance land clearing, to restore and upgrade drainage and irrigation canals and install a pump in the specified farming communities as well as provide technical support for targeted farmers. He added that the project will target farmers in the four “very economically challenged areas.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture George Jervis had also explained that the project will be further developed into a programme, since it is expected to be sustainable as there will be cooperative groups working in the established communities.