Farmers from the Mara Farmers Association (MFA) in Region 6 met with representatives from Canada and the Caribbean on Monday, May 16, 2016 to talk about gains in farming and community development under the Mara Agricultural Enhancement Project (MAEP) over the last two years.
The MAEP, viewed as a potential model for replication of good practices towards local economic development, is one of several initiatives to strengthenlocal governance supported by the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED). CARILED supports local governance bodies in order to promote job creation and increased productivity among small businesses.
Mr. Ovid Phillips, Chairman of Mara Village and Daniel Ward, Secretary of the Mara Farmers Association, spoke on behalf of the community. The representatives outlined the type of improvements seen by the 145 households and 280 farmers in the area through CARILED’s support. Since the purchase of the excavator, the MFA has been able to plough 1000 rows for planting, clear 200 acres of farmland, set 5 plots for housing and dig small ponds and reservoirs for local homes. The community now experiences less flooding as a result of this infrastructural support, leading to increased crop yield and fewer losses of animals. With monies generated from the renting of the excavator, the MFA built a bucket and flatbed, and are currently seeking to purchase a tractor to continue their work.
As a Government of Canada funded project, CARILED works with seven Caribbean countries in supporting local economies and groups. In Guyana, CARILED partners with the Ministry of Communities and directly supports dedicated local government staff in four Regions: Regions 2, 3, 4 and 6. CARILED is providing assistance in the revision of the Municipal Development Plans, Local Area Economic Profiles and Ease of Doing Business stakeholder consultations to promote the role of local governments as leaders in development. Local authorities, including Regional Democratic Councils, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and Municipal Councils, will benefit from technical assistance and capacity building aimed at enhancing the local economic development process.
The delegation to Mara Village included His Excellency Pierre Giroux, High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana and Ms. Odette Gauthier, Director of Federation of Canadian Municipalities International, who both gave opening remarks. The group was reminded of the 50 years of diplomatic relations shared between Canada and Guyana that could only lead to a future of “growing together”. “We have a strong past, strong present and now we want a strong future together” said High Commissioner Giroux. Ms. Gauthier made similar remarks, and reiterated the commitment of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to support local governments across the globe.
After a demonstration of the excavator, and site visit to a neighbouring farm, the group was thanked by Ms. Marion Villanueva, Program Director of CARILED for their commitment and dedication to local economic development. The visit, organized by the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED), was part of a two day annual Project Steering Committee meeting that ended today. The annual committee meetingis made up of members from four Caribbean, two Canadian, and one Commonwealth organization, was co-chaired by The Honourable Ronald Bulkan, representing the Caribbean Forum of Local Government Ministers and Mr. Marlon Thompson of Global Affairs Canada. During the annual committee meeting, Minister Bulkan thanked the Government and people of Canada for their ongoing support of development in the Caribbean. Minister Bulkan then reiterated that the Ministry of Communities and local authorities of Guyana remain committed to partnering with regional partners, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CARILED to achieve local government reform and to shape strategic visions that can lead to cohesive and productive communities.