Guyana’s agriculture sector to undergo “rapid scan”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 November 2015, 16:16 by GxMedia

Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CTA), Juan Cheaz Pelaez

Guyana’s agriculture sector is among several in the Caribbean being analysed to help improve the productiotn and marketing of highly nutritious food, according to a top official of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains at the CTA, Juan Cheaz Pelaez said the rapid scan would help policy-makers craft the best approach.

“In the case of Guyana, being a country with the land mass that it has and the agricultural potential, there are a lot of opportunities to bring around different groups, not only farmers but also private sector around a particular crop,” he said.

Cheaz Pelaez noted that Guyana has a competitive advantage in rice and fish and shrimp. “You have the resources that allow you to have that. It is something to be capitalized on,” he said.

The rapid scans are focusing on the initiatives and challenges facing agriculture and nutrition, with a view to approaching consumer groups, private sector, ministries of agriculture and education and scientists. The CTA official noted that most produce lose their nutritional value after they have been harvested.

“It is in the post-harvest handling that most of the losses in terms of nutritional value and economic value… so definitely the issue of post-harvest handling is important,” he said. He said the focus would be on priority crops such as roots, tubers, small ruminants and herbs and spices.

 The rapid scan is also trying to ascertain whether consumers are buying foods because they are cheap or nutritious

The countries being targeted for rapid scans are Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, and St. Lucia. The full report is expected by mid next year after which stakeholders are expected to craft a strategy. The mini-studies have been already conducted in Haiti, St. Lucia and Suriname. Four Pacific Island nations including the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea are also being studied.

“The end-game of this is that this doesn’t stop with the scan and the report. The end-game is that those reports would suggest what are the capacity building areas that are most critical at the national level and we would support those national capacity building efforts towards the building of a platform and the role of those platforms at the national level would be for those concerned to establish their own nutrition agendas,” said  Cheaz Pelaez.

The findings from the Caribbean and Pacific would be shared with 50 experts with the aim of building national strategies in enhancing nutrition, modernizing business and tackling climate change, said the CTA official.

cta sampsonCTA’s Associate Programme Coordinator, Samson Vilvil Fare told the news conference that the Pacific has also shared its knowledge about drought-smart crops such as dasheens with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). “The Pacific has really developed a very good drought-smart crop in dasheen and they are very interested in having in the Caribbean,” he said. In exchange, the Caribbean is expected to provide information about yellow yams.

The Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum, which is being held at the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus in Barbados) is focusing on value-chain development and inclusive business models, the agriculture-nutrition nexus and the way forward, policy analysis and advocacy for farmers’ leaders, access to finance, building partnerships and alliances to scale-up climate smart and adaptation solutions in the Caribbean and linking agriculture and tourism.