Forestry stakeholders, GFC staff laud ‘groundbreaking’ $900M fund

 The PPP/C Administration’s commitment to the development of the forestry sector was further demonstrated on Friday, when President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali committed a $900 million revolving fund to support the sector.

The Department of Public Information (DPI) spoke to forestry stakeholders and staff on Monday about the fund to support the sector.

Chairman of the Upper Berbice Forest Producers and Agriculture Association (UBFPAA), Kwakwani, Region Ten, Dereck Daniels

Chairman of the Upper Berbice Forest Producers and Agriculture Association (UBFPAA), Kwakwani, Region Ten, Dereck Daniels stated that this will enhance the forestry sector. He noted that the fund will ‘take them a long way’.

“I believe that’s a great initiative that His Excellency would have committed to, and I believe that will boost the forestry sector. And I believe this will enhance the sector.”

He said some of the challenges they encounter include acquiring machinery and access to small loans.

“But with the president’s involvement in this $900 million, it will enhance the sector,” he noted.

Forest Resource Officer, GFC, Seon George

Regarding small, medium and community-based loggers, he pointed out that the management of funds is integral for the sector to continue to develop.

Daniels added that the main concern is the development of the communities so that the members can provide for themselves and their families.

Forest Resource Officer, Seon George of the Forest Resource Management Division of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) also lauded the initiative.

“The fund is there to help the small loggers so that they can produce for their communities and also their family,” he added.

Community Development Unit of GFC, Simone Benn

The forest resource officer explained that the small logging communities have issues with access to roads, equipment, and skillset. 

“Most of the fund is for the improvement of small loggers. And those are communities like Kwakwani and Ituni who basically depend, 90 per cent of the people in those areas, depend on forestry for their livelihood. So, by having this revolving $900 million fund, they can tap into this fund to actually improve their operation.”

He indicated that the development and growth of small and medium-scale loggers and community logger associations will receive additional attention.

Technical Officer, Indira Hoorilall said, “The $900 million is good news for the entire forest sector of Guyana. For the small and medium-scale operators, one of the major issues that they have right now is access to cash. So, it will get them to increase their productivity in terms of access to machinery, equipment.”

Assistant Commissioner of Forest, Forest Monitoring Division at GFC, Shanti Fiedtkou

Meanwhile, Community Development Unit Officer, GFC, Simone Benn expressed, “I was more than happy to hear that the President mentioning the fact that now the sector has the opportunity to get financing, of course, at a lower rate. I mean four percent is remarkable.”

She indicated that the community groups will benefit tremendously from the fund for developmental projects, “now they can diversify and downstream into other value-added activities.”

Forest Resource Management Officer, GFC, Reya Bisnauth said the revolving fund will help the stakeholders massively, “my initial thought was it’s been a really long time, years and years that stakeholders have been asking for us to speak to the banks, get them some assurance for their loans. So, this revolving fund is groundbreaking for them. I am certain the sector’s production is going to reach new heights. And we’re going to get even more stakeholders’ support after that announcement.”

Assistant Commissioner of Forest within the Forest Monitoring Division at GFC, Shanti Fiedtkou also explained, “I do believe that it’s a great boost to the forest sector because it allows stakeholders to access funds that will be able to help them invest more in equipment and so on.

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