Guyana poised to benefit from US-funded farmer-to-farmer assistance

Last Updated on Thursday, 9 November 2023, 9:11 by Denis Chabrol

US Ambassador to Guyana Nicole Theriot; Regional Representative of USAID in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Mr. Mervyn Farroe and CARICOM Secretary General Dr Carla Barnett.

Guyanese farmers are set to benefit from specialised technical assistance under a $5.3 million Caribbean Agricultural Productivity Improvement Activity (CAPA) project being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a senior aid official announced Wednesday night.

“In Guyana, the programme is currently in the design phase,” Regional Representative of USAID in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Mr. Mervyn Farroe said ahead of the launch of that project component.

In making the announcement at a reception for “USAID-CARICOM: Neighbours, Partners, Friends Spotlight on Guyana,” he said the new farmer-to-farmer programme is a five-year initiative that would start this year. “Farmer-to-farmer sends US-based volunteers on technical assignments and these volunteers really have technical skills to provide hands on training to communities, cooperatives, agri-businesses and educational institutions,” he said.

The USAID Director for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean highlighted that CAPA is one of the aid agency’s key collaborations with CARICOM that emerged from the 9th Summit of the Americas.

He said USAID responded  to Guyana’s mission to ensure food security in the Caribbean by crafting the CAPA project which has three “interconnected objectives”. Mr Farroe explained that those are aimed at generating tangible positive impact for smallholder farmers, enterprises and consumers across the region.

The USAID official said the aim is to increase production of smallholder production of fruits and vegetables, improve domestic and regional marketing linkages for smallholder farmers and strengthen public-private sector extension skills, training and systems to transfer best practices to smallholder farmers.

Mr Farroe said CAPA would also use an integrated approach to leverage USAID’s capabilities to create strategic linkages with the private sector across the Caribbean to help boost agriculture production.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett said the Food Security Working Group, a byproduct of the 9th Summit of the Americas, “has made commendable progress to support the reduction of the region’s food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.” She said several initiatives have been launched and a number of them have been completed.

US Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot, in her remarks, said her country “is working diligently to bolster Guyana’s agricultural sector, promoting sustainable farming practices, and increasing access to nutritious food for all.” “Our goal is to create a self-sustaining agricultural sector that benefits both rural and urban communities,” she added.

Guyana is responsible for agriculture and food security in CARICOM’s quasi cabinet.