USAID launches $5.3M programme to support farmers, improve food security


In an effort to boost opportunities in the agriculture sector by providing increased technical support to farmers while enhancing food security, the United States Agency for Development (USAID) on Wednesday launched Caribbean Agricultural Productivity Improvement Activity (CAPA).

CAPA is a three-year $5.3 million project which was designed to aid farmers to increase fruit and vegetable productivity, build relationships between buyers and suppliers and improve farmer-level extension systems.

Through an integrated value chain approach, CAPA will facilitate the adoption of on-farm technologies, such as shade houses and climate smart practices to increase yields, strengthen farm to market logistics and support value addition and practical storage solutions to maintain shelf life.

The regional programme was launched in partnership with the Improving Economies for Stronger Communities at the University of Guyana.

Vice Chancellor of UG, Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin and CAPA’s Programe Director, Sandiford Edwards sign the MoU (Photo: DPI/January 24, 2024)

In delivering the feature address, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha said the project is being implemented at a “critical” point as the Russian-Ukraine war continues to present severe challenges to the region, including the rise in food prices.

“This activity serves a particular useful purpose by enhancing the knowledge, skills and access to small scale farmers to agriculture inputs and technology to promote improved agricultural practices,” Mustapha said.

In her address, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot said the CAPA programme is an important milestone and goes hand in hand with the region’s target of reducing the food-import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

In emphasizing the importance of CAPA, the Ambassador said the programme will provide agritech and “climate smart” technology opportunities with small and medium agribusinesses and farmers.

“I can’t wait to see the growth and improvement that comes out of CAPA,” she said.

U.S Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot and others at the event (Photo: DPI/January 24, 2024)

Meanwhile, USAID Regional Representative, Mervyn Farroe said food security challenges grew in the region with the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

So to address this, Farroe said CAPA was implemented with “significant” focus on private sector engagement and creating critical linkages as well as access to markets in the region.

“USAID is committed to supporting the Caribbean in unlocking the full potential of its agricultural sector,” Farroe said.

At Wednesday’s launch, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed to allow CAPA and UG to improve the turmeric value chain in Guyana, Suriname and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

CAPA is one of the USAID’s key collaboration with CARICOM which emerged at the 9th Summit of the Americas.  The initiative is expected to be implemented in other Caribbean countries.

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