Investing in Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems for Guyana
―Min. Holder represents govt at 43rd session of IFAD
The forty-third session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) took place in Rome on 11 and 12 February 2020. Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder represented Guyana in the capacity as a Governor of the international bank that is widely recognised as the rural bank of the world, especially the rural poor.
IFAD is second only to the World Bank in terms of financing rural development projects across the globe.
Minister Holder called attention to critical challenges facing Guyana’s agricultural sector diversification and development efforts. These included implementing the coordination, policies and planning for investment and enterprise development to address Guyana’s food security needs as well as increasing agricultural exports.
Heads of state, ministers, development leaders, and celebrities called for greater investment in rural areas to accelerate progress to achieve a world free from poverty and hunger in the next 10 years. This comes at a time when hunger is rising. More than 820 million people go hungry every day, 736 million people still live in extreme poverty, and the wealth gap continues to widen.
IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo called reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in 10 years “an abstract vision, a distant mirage” unless serious commitments are made to invest more in rural areas where 79 per cent of the world’s poorest people and the vast majority of the hungry live.
IFAD operates in remote rural areas and highly vulnerable regions, where few aid agencies or international financial institutions venture. IFAD is currently financing an US$11.0 M project entitled “Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Development Project for development” (HESAD) in Region 1 and Region 9.
The project which runs from 2017 to 2023 focuses on increasing “Improved livelihood resilience through income generation, access to assets, improved nutrition and adaptation to climate variability”. A large part of the financing available is for an Investment Fund through which non-reimbursable mechanisms enable purchasing of goods and services. Prior to the current HESAD project, IFAD implemented to Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development (READ) project in Guyana for US$6 M between 2007 and 2015 providing access
to financial services and training in marketing and enterprise development. A half of the READ project financing was grant funds.
While in Rome Minister Holder also met with Directors of the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and IFAD to discuss the strengthening of Guyana’s agricultural planning and extension system in the context of anticipated growth of the agricultural sector in the coming years. He highlighted the potential increase in the availability of resources as well as increasing demand for food and agricultural products as Guyana’s economy expands.
The Governing Council is IFAD’s main decision-making body. It consists of all of IFAD’s Member States and meets annually. It is attended by the official Member State representatives, i.e. Governors, Alternate Governors and any other designated advisers.