$5M food hub in Karrau will provide ‘ready market’ for farmers, residents

Residents and farmers of Karrau Village, Region Seven, will soon benefit from the $5 million food hub which will consolidate all the agricultural produce from the community at a central location, while providing ‘ready market’ for the farmers.

It will benefit over 650 residents and 16 farmers of Karrau, miners, loggers, and other communities to purchase fresh produce at the hub.

IFAD’s Country Director, Maija Peltola

A major part of the hub is the cold storage aspect which will help to store meat and cash crops. 

It is anticipated that the hub, which will run on solar energy, would be completed by the end of the month and operational by December.

HESADP’s Hinterland Coordinator, Raymond Latchman

This undertaking is made possible through the Ministry of Agriculture’s Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Development Project (HESADP) with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Guyana. 

The primary focus of this project is to promote village economies in Regions One and Nine by offering small incentives to businesses and community development.

Toshao of Karrau, Shane Cornelius

The project’s scope was increased last year to include funding for initiatives in Karrau and Agatash in Region Seven and Kato and Paramakatoi in Region Eight.

During a community outreach in Karrau on Friday, led by HESADP’s Hinterland Coordinator, Raymond Latchman, IFAD’s Country Director, Maija Peltola, Toshao of Karrau, Shane Cornelius, other representatives of the ministry, village council, and IFAD, residents were engaged on the existing small grant project and other future developments to enhance their community.

Ongoing works on the $5M food hub in Region Seven

Latchman underlined that across the entire programme, 40,000 persons are expected to benefit from this project.  So far, over 30,000 persons have already benefitted.

“We are expecting to surpass that 40,000 target by the end of the year…the target for 2023 is just about 14,000,” Latchman indicated.

“We are also discussing the possibility of the scaling up of some of these projects. So, we are in discussion for additional financing if we meet the criteria for it,” he added.

Residents at the meeting in Karrau, Region Seven

Providing an overview of the programme, the hinterland coordinator said, “We have a couple of projects, here, in Regions Seven and Nine. Those projects are funded through an agreement with the communities where we develop small projects. We work with communities to develop their proposals that are evaluated independently at the ministry of agriculture.”

Latchman explained that the ministry proceeds with funding through a contract with the village council or if a producers’ organisation within the village is involved, with the project’s implementation after the evaluation is completed and approved.

Meanwhile, Peltola highlighted that the aggregated market will help to diversify the income of the residents, while improving the village’s food security agenda. 

“What has happened before is that the farmers have only sold individually and not together. People who were looking for local produce had to go to each farmer to look for this produce. So, now, they will have everything together in this food hub, which is also well located in the town,” Peltola underlined.

Toshao Cornelius highlighted that the hub is part of Karrau’s 10-year plan which focuses on six thematic areas including health, education, livelihood, nature and environment.

The hub, which was prioritised under the livelihood area, will help to boost production.

“It is a central hub where farmers can bring their produce. The village council will purchase the produce wholesale and we will retail it to the residents within the village…It is a new project that we are implementing. We hope that once all of us work together, we can achieve one of our aims which is to have food security within our village. Because we are buying from local farmers, it will be organically produced, thereby, contributing to having healthy people within the village,”Toshao Cornelius explained.

The hub will also help to enhance value-added production in terms of hot pepper sauce, fruit juices, among others.

With the readily accessible market, Toshao Cornelius remains hopeful that it will encourage more persons to delve into agriculture.

Through a number of initiatives, the government is steadfastly pushing for agricultural improvement in the hinterland regions.