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UK-funded Guyana Agri Diversification Prog. launched

Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy with British High Commissioner to Guyana Andrew Ayre, DFID’s Senior Economic Advisor and Growth Team Leader Matt Butler and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) CARANA Corporation Eduardo Tugendhat at the launch of the DFID funded Guyana Agriculture Diversification Project at the Satyadeow Sawh Aquaculture Station, Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is providing financial support to Government’s agriculture diversification and export promotion drive. The organisation is providing Government with funding to the tune of £1.3M or US$2M to support the Guyana Agriculture Diversification Programme (GADP.)

It is expected that this investment will create over 1,000 new jobs, increase tilipia export from 1,000kg to 1,200kg a week and non-traditional agriculture exports, such as bell (sweet) pepper, hot pepper and butternut squash from 1,000kg to 1, 600kg weekly.

The DFID-funded project was today launched at the Satyadeow Sawh Aquaculture Station at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara in the presence of Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, British High Commissioner to Guyana Andrew Ayre, DFID Senior Economic Advisor and Growth Team Leader Matt Butler and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) CARANA Corporation Eduardo Tugendhat. CARANA is the implementing partner on this collaborative project between the Government of Guyana and DFID and has over 28 years of experience implementing economic development programmes around the world. It has been operating in Guyana since 2004.finerlings

CARANA, in fact under contract with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has implemented successful pilots for production and export of non-traditional agriculture products, including fish in Guyana.
 

It was the implementing partner in 2008, when USAID assisted the Government with $11M to establish the Satyadeow Sawh Aquaculture Station and to support fish enterprise locally. The aim of that support was to have the hatchery at Mon Repos produce 200,000 female fingerlings per year, assist farmers to access larger quantities, diversify their income, increase earnings and create 13,000 new jobs

USAID has since terminated its support in this regard, nevertheless, Minister Ramsammy recognised the agency for starting the programme and for the lessons the country would have learnt from that venture. He commended DFID for taking up the project left-off by USAID.

He said the challenge now, like then, for all partners is to ensure that the resources expended on the project contribute to its sustainable development.

“This funding should be seed money where communities and people grow, and where we leave a legacy of adding to the production and supply chain,” he said.

Minister Ramsammy said therefore in continuing the programme, all partners now, must work to tackle the challenges that farmers and communities may face in sustaining it, one of which is market. “Find the market and people will find a way of producing, markets drive the production chain,” he said.

According to the Minister, Guyana is now over producing tilapia for the local market, and in fact has a production capacity in aquaculture culture that exceeds the local demand. Many aquaculture ponds have become restricted in their production because they cannot sell their product on the local market.

He pointed out that there is however, a huge market just outside the borders of Guyana for this produce. He said that critical to the project is being able to enter these markets that exist at Guyana’s door steps and pointed to the market to be had in Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Minister Ramsammy, this year Trinidad is likely to exceed US$50M in the procurement of tilapia from China.

The Minister said that the cost of feed presents a big challenge for sustainability, and that the ministry, in recognition of this, is working with support from research agencies to develop a locally produced fish feed.

The DFID project will work at three levels; directly with farmers to introduce new technologies and raise productivity; streamlining the paperwork and red tape for investors and exporters; and helping to build relationships with new markets and buyers.

According to High Commissioner Ayre, the programme will help Guyanese exporters maximise their potential to supply markets elsewhere in the Caribbean, in North America and in Europe. He said that, at a time when global prices for food and agriculture commodities have been rising across the board, the region has experienced substantial declines in major agriculture exports resulting in the lack in performance of the sector despite growing world demand. This programme aims to tackle that in the areas covered, he said.

“…DFID support will help to establish aqua-culture and non-traditional agriculture as viable export sector, able to attract new foreign and local investment, generate substantial revenues and generate employment in rural areas where poverty rates are highest,” he said.

He pointed out that a win-win situation will be created whereby both consumers and producers benefit as a result of the project. He also expressed hope that in the long-term, the project will result in the capacity of the Guyanese food-producing sector being permanently increased, and that the progress made through the diversification project embeds new ways of working and thinking.

According to Butler, the support to Guyana forms part of DFID’s programme to the Caribbean (2011 to 2015) under which £75M will be spent to help the region tackle key areas of vulnerability.

The contribution provides support for three main areas; governance and security, disaster risk reduction and wealth creation. The Guyana project falls under the latter category.

Butler said that DFID will be using a very different approach on this project, whereby the project funding will be paid out based on actual results achieved; as a set of detailed indicators has been agreed upon with CARANA.

He said that this new ‘payment by result’ method being employed by DFID will guarantee value for money for both UK tax payers and will assure development impact of the project in Guyana.