Ithaca farmers receive support as RAID project continues to take shape

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DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID) project is finally taking root in Ithaca as farmers anticipate significant returns and contributions to Guyana’s Agriculture sector. Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder spearheaded a visit to farmlands in Ithaca where infrastructure works are being conducted and continue.

Even as farmers have been encouraged to commence farming and other agriculture-related activities, the Agriculture Ministry has contributed seedlings and plants for various crops as an incentive to farmers.

Since 2018, 150 acres of fertile lands in the Ithaca area, have been receiving infrastructural improvements to facilitate the farmers of the Ithaca Co-operative society. This initiative followed the identification of farming areas in Mocha, Buxton, Triumph and Ithaca, for assistance from the RAID project. These areas came under the radar of the government in 2015, and since then the administration has continued to work to bring the agriculture viability of these communities to its maximum potential.

Minister Jordan said that of the four areas identified for interventions under the project, Ithaca had experinced many challenges nevertheless, today, farmers and residents interested in farming can now access these lands. As an incentive, farmers received seedlings for crops.

“Ithaca was a bit more challenging, and so I paid quite a bit of attention to it to ensure that we are where we are today and I am happy that significant progress has been made to the extent where we could be handing over seedlings and coconut and so on,” Minister Jordan said.

With this jumpstart, Minister Jordan said that the Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and other agencies, will ensure farmers are aptly provided with requisite planting and farming materials to be successful in their endeavours.

“There are crops that are planted and will give a return in 18 months, some three years, some five years, and in between, there will be intercropping with in-demand crops like turmeric, ginger and so forth, so it’s a work in progress. There is rice on the other side then there is cattle and so forth.”

The minister continued to emphasise the importance of moving in this direction.

“Food will be far more important than oil, and to the extent where we are trying to put people back on the land and give them the support in marketing the agriculture crop, extension and so on we will commit to providing both of those so that farming can be more viable.”

Cash Crop farmer, Rolleaux Reddock, who has been farming for more than 15 years, says the RAID project means a lot to farmers in the area and welcomed the initiative. He also said that he supports the vision of sustainability and replication of same in other areas as agriculture is still essential to livelihoods

The Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development Project (RAID) is a $12M loan project made possible by the Government of Guyana and CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). The initiative ensures sustainable farming in communities where there has been the construction of secondary drainage and irrigation canals and hydraulic structures, rehabilitation of access dams, clearing of land and the establishment of pasture lands and farm plots.

Ministers Jordan and Holder interacted with the Ithaca farmers who expressed some concerns which, when addressed, will improve the project’s existence in the village.

It was explained that this is considered a “model experiment” for Ithaca and the agriculture co-op society is expected to take full ownership of farming activities.

Delicia Haynes.

Images: Giovanni Gajie.