By Shikema Dey
Bibi Waheeda Hamid of Rosignol, West Coast Berbice lost over $200,000 in livestock last year when the May/June rainy season hit Guyana’s coast and resulted in devastating floods.
To some, it may not seem like much, but to Hamid, her entire livelihood was literally washed away and her family is still reeling from the losses.
Further down the coast, at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara, Neville Ramadar lost over 10 acres of rice and all of his cash crops due to flooding.
The possibility of returning to the fields was not realised until Tuesday.
Hamid and Ramadar are among the 200 farmers from Guyana set to benefit from $8.9 million in support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).
On Tuesday, the project – “Emergency Response and Early Recovery Support to Smallholder farmers affected by the 2021 floods in Guyana and Suriname” – was launched in the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture on Regent and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.
Guyana’s FAO representative Dr. Gillian Smith pointed out that the project will equip the farmers with much-needed training in disaster risk management and flood recovery response, as an added boost to the government’s ongoing efforts.
The project is expected to last approximately six months and in total, US$137,000 worth in agricultural products such as livestock medications, seeds, planting materials, fertilizers will be distributed to farmers in Guyana and Suriname.
Of this total cost, G$8.9M will go towards assisting Guyanese farmers.
In Guyana, farmers from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and 10 will undergo training, receive planting materials and equipment in preparations for their return to the fields with a ramp-up in production.
“We know already a lot of work has gone into supporting farmers to help them get back to planting and to help them keep growing so this support will continue that line.”
“We understand that this is very small and we understand too that when you look at the contributions these farmers make, it may look relatively small but the work that they do, makes a huge difference,” Dr. Smith added.
The government has already distributed billions of dollars in flood relief cash grants with some 50,000 farmers already benefitting, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha said.
He was keen to note that small scale farmers play a “vital role” supporting Guyana’s agri-food system and as such, they need all the support they can get.
“We have to prepare our farmers, especially our small farmers because they are key in the country’s agricultural development and overall economy, so we take pride in our efforts to support local farmers for economic advancement and the achievement of food security in Guyana and further afield,” Minister Mustapha stated.