GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Thursday, October 28, 2021) — The Ottawa-based World University Service of Canada (WUSC) hosted a virtual exercise, on Tuesday, to launch its five-year Sustainable Agriculture in the Caribbean (SAC) project, aimed at benefiting 12,000 women, youth (both female and male), and marginalized men in five Caribbean countries — Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Dominica, and St. Lucia.
Funded by the government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (GAC), to the tune of CAD $20 million, the program will expose selected individuals to an agricultural project that will increase their impact on agricultural markets in the Caribbean, while developing more environmentally-sustainable and climate-resilient domestic agricultural markets for economic growth.
While delivering the feature address at the launch ceremony, Guyana’s Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, said that the need to increase opportunities and capacity for women and youths, in various agricultural market systems, were goals that are linked to the ministry’s vision, and that the private sector also has a role to play as enablers in the system.
“The need to invest in agriculture, could not be clearer. As such, Guyana is pleased to be joining our sister CARICOM countries, Jamaica, Suriname, Dominica, and St. Lucia in this project. The need to increase livelihoods, opportunities, and capacity for women and youths to participate in inclusive, sustainable, and climate-resilient agricultural market systems are goals that are linked with the ministry’s vision of having a competitive, dynamic, and diversified, socially-inclusive and environmentally-sustainable agri-food system.
“The government of Guyana aims to help farmers grow more, be better connected to markets, thereby earning more and living better lives. At the same time, the private sector has a role to play, as enablers in this system, to increase their productivity, improve the quality of their production and their reliability as suppliers, and help build strong producer organizations to access the markets,” Minister Mustapha said.
The SAC project was designed to facilitate linkages between key market actors; strengthen their capacity, through training, information-sharing, and outreaches; and foster climate-resilient approaches, at every stage and via a wide range of key market actors in the agricultural market system.
This approach is expected to help increase productivity and profitability in the agricultural sector, mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters, and foster climate-resilient agricultural markets that offer increased equitable, inclusive, and sustainable economic benefits for women and youth.
Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman, said that there was an urgent need to build back better, as Guyana’s agriculture sector charts a path to recovery, given the challenges brought on by the countrywide impacts of this year’s May – June flood, combined with the ongoing global pandemic and issues of climate change.
“The launch of the SAC Project is particularly timely, as we consider the challenge Guyana’s food production system faced in 2021, with the countrywide impact of the May to June 2021 flood, combined with the ongoing global pandemic and the issues of climate change. As the sector charts a path to recovery and resilience, there is an urgent need to ‘build back better’,” Berman noted.
“Building back better requires a transformative agenda that involves making food production more diverse or sustainable, more efficient, and more inclusive. Inclusion of women and especially Guyana’s indigenous communities are essential across many rural farming communities of Guyana, women are well-known producers of cash crops or vegetables, not only to feed their households but also to supply traders and markets,” he added.
In addition to achieving economic benefits for targeted agricultural markets actors, the SAC projects also aims to pursue environmental sustainability, in relation to Guyana’s commitment to carbon emission and mitigation, pursue climate resilience and adopt climate-smart agricultural practices.
It is expected that by the end of the program lifecycle, there will be increased equitable participation of women and youth in agricultural markets.