[www.inewsguyana.com] – Agriculture Minister Noel Holder on Monday affirmed the government’s commitment to agricultural producers as the Rural Enterprise Agricultural Decelopment (READ) project concluded.
Holder made it clear that the READ project was of immense benefit to Guyana’s agricultural sector.
The project came to an end on March 21, 2015 and was designed to improve the living conditions of rural households in Guyana. The project catered to 5200 poor households across Guyana aiding them in their small scale farming practices.
Holder stated that “the project remains significant not only because it has assisted farmers from across the agricultural regions of Guyana but also due to the fact that it has targeted small-scale farmers, particularly women and indigenous peoples, to access finance for the continued promotion of sustainable practices.”
The evaluation of the READ project encapsulated what small farmers can achieve once they have assistance and training from abled organisations. Agriculture is one of the major sources of foreign exchange earnings and cannot be targeted to merely meet Guyana’s food security requirements.
Minister Holder also assured the participants in attendance that “the end phase of the READ project does not mean the end of farmers’ assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture.” He made a declaration that agriculture will be a strong medium for moving Guyana forward and that Guyana will be on its way to ensure economic and social security by 2020.
Also present at Monday’s ceremony was Mr. Hugh Wilkinson, the International Project Evaluation Consultant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the READ Project. His presentation offered a very detailed breakdown of the project’s outcome.
Given the immense complexity, geographic scope and demographic diversity the READ project was considered a success by the IFAD. While addressing those in attendance Mr. Wilkinson outlined READ’s specific goals which included ‘increasing the market opportunities available to small rural producers’ and ‘increasing rural people’s capacity to produce and market non-traditional products.’
As he congratulated the READ for the success of the initiative, he pointed out that it is difficult to use the 30% increase in profits from the farmers as an indicator of growth after the six year period.
Mr Wilkinson stated that “many of the farmers do not have bank accounts or know what they made in the past year or two. They (the farmers) may not have been honest with what they actually made to avoid legal encounters with agencies like GRA and other persons in the household might have gotten another source of income outside of the agriculture sector.”
As a follow up to this project, the IDB will soon approve funding totalling US $750 thousand for the design and execution of a household survey. READ saw a high level of beneficiary satisfaction as the project established enormous credibility not only amongst partners and stakeholders but also amongst the project beneficiaries.
The project was successful in capacity building, improved productivity of farmers and enterprises, and agricultural productivity technology transfer and market linkage.[Extracted and modified from GINA]