Georgetown, Guyana—(July 7, 2021) His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali today reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to ensuring that all indigenous communities across Guyana develop sustainably in order to not only secure their livelihoods but to put them in line with the development trajectory of the country.
President Ali was at the time giving the feature address at a handing-over ceremony of tractors to 30 indigenous communities in regions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 9.
The Head of State said that the tractors are the first batch of 112 that have been procured for community development. They are equipped with hydraulic trailers and implements to support agriculture.
“It is our vision to work with indigenous communities, hinterland communities, riverain communities to ensure sustainable development, to ensure sustainable livelihood, to ensure that you are part of the mainstream development of our country, and when we speak about sustainable development and sustainable livelihood it is not only about the provision of goods and services, it is also about the transformation of our human resources, and our community as a whole.”
The President said that the handing over of the tractors to the communities is testament to his Government’s promise of ensuring that every commitment made during the election period is fulfilled.
Equipping the communities with the right tools, according to the President, is necessary to sustain their livelihoods, improve community services and advance their productive capacity.
“In advancing your productive capacity you need equipment, you need the tools, you need the technology, you need the knowledge, you need technical support so that we can move to different forms of agriculture, so that we can move to high value, sustainable crops, whilst at the same time, supporting the community economy.”
REBUILDING STRONGER AND MORE RESILIENT
President Ali emphasised that it is important to recognise that every move charted forward has to be done in a climate-resilient manner. This, he said, is evident by the devastating effects of recent floods across the country.
He noted that during his visits to a number of riverine communities, he was pleased to hear that residents and leaders want to have settlements on higher grounds that will be akin to housing schemes. This will improve the efficiency of services to citizens while reducing costs.
“This intervention comes at a critical juncture. The flood disaster has affected all of the country’s 10 administrative regions. It has severely impacted our country’s agricultural sector—hinterland agriculture has not been spared. Many interior communities have been affected by the floods, resulting in loss of produce, and the destruction of farmlands. In some communities, the availability of food remains perilous. We are however going to rebuild stronger and better. The agricultural sector remains vital to our people’s livelihood and I want to assure all farmers that we’ll work with you to restore the sector.”
President Ali reminded that prior to the recent floods, hinterland agriculture was being supported by the Government. He said that going forward “we’ll fashion a plan to not only help in the recovery efforts but also ensure it becomes more resilient”.
ENHANCED EXTENSION SERVICES
The Head of State also pointed out that food security has been impacted by the decline in non-traditional agriculture between 2015 and 2020. Production of non-traditional agriculture declined from 11,000 metric tons in 2015 to 9907 metric tons in 2020.
The President said that this was also compounded by a decline in agro-processing, and as a result, a number of initiatives are being undertaken to remedy this. He said that the system of extension services is being revamped to become fit for purpose.
“Funding is being provided to support hinterland agriculture. Tillage and transportation are being improved. We are committed to revitalising agricultural extension services to our hinterland communities. We are boosting the capabilities of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute, to improve and to enhance the provision of extension services.”
The President said that these enhanced and extended services will allow for the Government to work closely with farmers in addressing their needs and concerns in boosting production and productivity.
“We are committed also to ensuring that farmers, affected by the recent floods, receive planting materials and breeding stock. The horticultural station at Hosororo and Santa Rosa Moruca will allow for the availability of planting materials for the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers. Germplasm banks are being established in Kato and Monkey Mountain. In addition, selected farmers will be identified for contract breeding of pigs, poultry, and small and large ruminants and these will be made accessible to farmers.”
President Ali added that while the rebuilding of hinterland agriculture will require the injection of considerable financing, funding is currently being pursued aggressively to support the development.
The 30 tractors were handed over to the communities of Haimacabra, Santa Cruz, Karaburi, White Water, Santa Rosa, Waramuri, Four Miles, Barabina, Bumbury Hill and Kamwatta (Moruca) in Region One; Bethany, Wakapoa, St Denys and Mashabo in Region Two; St Cuthbert’s Mission in Region Four; Moraikobai in Region Five; Orealla and Siparuta in Region Six; and Moco Moco, Yakarinta, Annai Central, Wowetta, Rupertee, Fairview, Kwaimatta, Quiko, Kwatamang, Potarinau, Quatata and Quarrie in Region Nine.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, the Honourable Pauline Sukhai was also at the event. She said that the procurement of the tractors cost $446M.