A new agricultural training and support programme is targeting 5,000 vulnerable farmers in Guyana in a bid to cultivate entrepreneurial skills and help farmers mitigate the harsh effects of climate change on their crops.
The vulnerable farmers targeted include women, youth and some less well-off men. And the project- called Sustainable Agriculture in the Caribbean (SAC) – is being implemented by World University Service of Canada (WUSC) with CA $20 million funding from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha, on Wednesday, said that this project is crucial given the current impetus on boosting local food production and cutting the country’s high import bill.
Importantly too, the minister said that the project’s focus on climate-smart agriculture is crucial given Guyana’s vulnerability to flooding.
“…it is important for us to move in that direction because climate change is real for us in this part of the world,” Minister Mustapha said.
He later added, “We recognise that we have to do agriculture in a smarter way.”
To illustrate the point, he reminded a gathering of Guyanese and Canadian stakeholders of the devastating impact nationwide flooding had on the local agricultural sector last year.
The minister also remarked that the partnership will aid Guyana’s efforts at advancing regional food security efforts through its lead role in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
To effect this new partnership, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked between WUSC and Guyana’s National Agriculture Research Extension Institute (NAREI) at the ministry’s boardroom on Wednesday.
Overall, the project targets 12,000 farmers from marginalised groups in Guyana, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Lucia.
And Munish Persaud, the Deputy Project Director of WUSC- Caribbean, told the News Room that there are no fixed monetary allocations per country.
He, however, explained that the project will be a consultative one that seeks to understand the support needed by farmers, what existing support mechanisms can be strengthened and how local agencies such as NAREI can be integrated into the project to ensure that the vulnerable farmers develop the necessary agricultural skills and market their projects.
Canadian High Commissioner Mark Berman also lauded the initiative. Importantly, though, he said that Canada is keen on supporting Guyana’s efforts in advancing regional food security and cutting the high food import bill.