Empowering Small-Scale Farmers, Farming Collectives, and Vulnerable Women through the Enhancement of National Social Protection Systems
The Government of Guyana, through its National Pathway for Food Systems Transformation, is strategically poised to bolster rural livelihoods, diversify the economy, and advance the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s regional food security agenda via the implementation of the ‘Twenty-Five by 2025 Initiative’. In alignment with this national endeavour, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have extended their support through the Joint SDG Fund, facilitating the government’s mission to expand social protection in Guyana.
As part of this initiative, farm input supplies and a one-time cash grant were offered to smallholder farmers and participants of ongoing socio-economic empowerment programmes throughout the country. The project was coordinated by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator to foster coherence and collaboration between the two UN agencies, support efforts to enhance intergovernmental coordination, and amplify the impact of national initiatives.
In a concerted effort with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security (MHSSS) dispensed a one-off cash grant to participants engaged in the Women Innovation and Investment Programme (WIIN), or the ‘WIIN in Business’ initiative. This initiative is designed to empower women and girls by equipping them with the requisite knowledge and skills to augment their economic engagement within their respective communities. As a crucial component of the programme, the Ministry conducted a workshop focused on business skills development, imparting practical competencies such as drafting business plans, networking, and finance procurement. Encouraged to conceive proposals for income-generating activities, the participants subsequently received a cash grant from the Ministry, supported by the WFP, to address their immediate needs and foster their proposed ventures. Approximately USD79,000 was distributed among 225 participants nationwide, intending to generate economic opportunities that enhance community livelihoods and resilience.
“With the cash grant money, I will seek to expand my business,” declared a 46-year-old female from Region 3. Another participant, a 31-year-old from Region 4, expressed gratitude, stating, “I am thankful for the cash grant which will enable me to start the business earlier than anticipated.”
Besides providing cash assistance, the WFP sustained its collaboration with the Ministry, offering technical assistance and support in programme lifecycle management, specifically in areas such as vulnerability assessment and mapping, beneficiary targeting, reconciliation and reporting, and post-distribution monitoring of the activity.
The programme also probed potential avenues for sustained engagement with the Ministry and other stakeholders, focusing on the crucial long-term capacity-building needs of small-scale farmers, farming groups, and associations with women participants from the Ministry’s innovation and entrepreneurial skills development programme.
“I am thankful because I learnt to save, do a budget and calculate a profit,” shared a 59-year-old food vendor from Region 3.
The FAO, with the backing of the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI), the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), conducted a two-day workshop. This event was tailored to equip farmers with knowledge on new and cost-effective feed and fertilizer alternatives, thereby boosting production and productivity. The workshop was attended by approximately 19 farmers from 17 communities and 23 extension officers from five coastal regions supporting livestock, rice, cash crops, and roots and tubers farmers.
Norman Alves, a farmer of cash crop, rice and ground provision, enthusiastically expressed, “This training was exciting; I learned how to fertilize crops in the rainy season by digging and placing them under the soil. I also learned how to use compost tea to enhance plant growth and how to use remains from my cassava and sweet potato crops to make animal feed.”
FAO remains committed to supporting vulnerable populations, including youth and women. The majority of participants at the workshop were female farmers and extension officers, followed by young farmers. Jaikumarie Persaud, a Livestock and Cash Crop Farmer, commended the training, saying, “The training provided was excellent. …. I learned a lot and received my certificate. I was able to use the 4 R’s (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, and Right Place) in my farm and share these techniques with my farming group.”
Moving forward, farmers are also set to benefit from input supplies provided by the FAO. The government, on its part, persists in its commitment to expand social protection by widening the reach and enhancing the benefits of existing social assistance programs while introducing new labour market strategies.
About the Joint SDG Fund
The Joint SDG Fund supports countries to accelerate their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to deliver on the commitment of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.