“Agriculture has money” – Min. Jordan

─ Buxton farmers praise RAID initiative

─ Crops harvested, New GMC to work with farmers to find markets

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID) project is coming to an end, and farmers continue to take up the challenge of returning to farmlands to contribute to Guyana’s agriculture sector.

Buxton is one of three areas identified under the RAID project where agriculture infrastructure has been upgraded, encouraging former farmers to return to the land while allowing others to practice self-sufficiency by growing food for the community and market.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan was pleased to have visited farmlands at Buxton Backdam and interact with farmers. He explained that this is one of the ways the government is trying to boost the agriculture potential of the country, especially in neglected farmland areas.

“As you can see, agriculture has money, and it can result in sustainable living, so this is part of the whole process of getting African Guyanese farming again and engaged in sustainable living and be a part of the whole process, we have in mind to diversify the economy,” Minister Jordan said.

Some of the farmers who had returned to land before the project began are reaping and were charged to create and maintain standards and quality in their produce.

Patrick Howard, a farmer in the Buxton Backdam area said he has been farming since in the days of youth but was forced to abandon his five acres of land; he has returned and is seeing the fruits of his labour.

“I waited for this opportunity, and now I am going to prove myself as a farmer. If you look and see there is a lot of bush and so on that took over the place and at one time we got frustrated.”

Apart from his usual cultivation of pepper, turmeric, ginger, pear, lemon, cherry, five-finger and cashew, Howard has explored the cultivation of pumpkin and has seen a tremendous harvest.

Also, Randy Benjamin has remained on the land for a number of years. He said, “Before the project started, I came in here and cut a line on this road to come in here… with a chainsaw, I cut down this land, and I started planting so when they came here, they met planting. I planted in the rain and, so when the contractor came here to start his job, I was ready to reap.”

Minister Jordan, as he continued his interaction with the farmers, explained that this RAID project focuses on many aspects of infrastructural development for agriculture; however, he said that the 2019 budget caters for continued upgrades and maintenance.

He added that agriculture has always been a “mainstay of this economy” as it can absorb human resources while providing food, revenue including foreign exchange.

Also commenting on the harvest of some of the farmers who have returned to the land, he said, “This is a good start, and we are glad that it is being done before oil comes so that nobody can say we are experimenting because of oil. This was always part of the government’s strategy of diversifying and promoting agriculture.”

As RAID wraps up, Minister Jordan hinted that a similar intervention may be taken to other communities to tap into the vast agriculture potential that exists. This will become a reality after a number of consultations and funding engagements would have been done.

Delicia Haynes.

Images: Jules Gibson.


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