Shea receives $1.5M to boost agriculture

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, November 24, 2019

The village of Shea in Region 9 has received the sum of $1.5M under the Presidential Grant programme to boost the village’s agriculture drive.

The cheque was presented to Toshao Francis Rufino by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock who was in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo Region as part of a ministerial outreach. Minister Allicock was also accompanied by Community Development Officers (CDOs) Vincent Henry and Ken Farria.

Shea is a Wapichan village located in the Deep South Rupununi with a population of over 400 persons who practise subsistence farming as a livelihood.

At the community meeting at the Shea Primary School, Minister Allicock encouraged the village council to ensure each household benefits from the initiative. He cited the example of family farms that can see a variety of cash crops being cultivated. He also encouraged young people in the community to get involved in the agriculture sector.

We have too many politicians in villages and not enough farmers… We forgot how to plant our cassava and make our Farine…We need to farm. This used to be a cattle area, and we would like to see that industry being resuscitated,” Minister Allicock emphasised.

Shea is known for the famous Shea Rock which is a tourist attraction. Minister Allicock called on the village to develop their tourism package and explore other projects that will improve the village economy through the creation of jobs.

By the end of this year, we will start producing oil, and you have to look at what you have here that can be developed and work on a plan to benefit from this resource… we have to leave something for our children,” he underscored.

The minister highlighted some of the many initiatives implemented by the Coalition Government that have improved the lives of Guyana’s first peoples. To date, millions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure in the newly established townships of Mabaruma, Mahdia, Lethem and Bartica. The administration also returned Local Government Elections (LGE) thereby empowering local democratic organs and village councils to manage their respective affairs. According to Minister Allicock, the administration has ensured adequate resources are distributed to these local bodies to execute their mandate.

Education was also significantly improved and have yielded results through the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC). This was made possible through the President’s Five-Bs programme and other initiatives executed by the Ministry of Education.

To improve communications in the hinterland, community, Minister Allicock added, radio stations were also established at Mabaruma, Lethem, Aishalton, Mahdia and Bartica. Over 70 communities have also been connected to the internet and Shea, along with its neighbouring villages will benefit from same in the coming weeks.

The Presidential Grant programme is one of the significant interventions undertaken by the government to boost economic and social development for Indigenous Peoples in their respective communities. Villages and communities receive between $500,000 to $2,000,000 based on the population size.

The allocation of grants commenced in 2007 with communities receiving a mere $150,000,000. Some 139 villages benefitted from the grant during that time. In 2016, in observance of Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary, the Coalition Government approved a total of $280,500,000 in grants for 212 communities to embark on a project of their choice. In 2017, $215,000,000 was approved for projects 215 villages.

In October, over $34M in Presidential and Capital Grants were presented to Toshaos for green sustainable community projects. Communities benefitted included- Hururu, Maikwak, Arakaka, Morawhanna, Hotoquai, Hiawa, Fly Hill, Sand Creek, Monkey Mountain, Quarrie, Santa Curz, Karasabai, Wiruni, Tipuru, Bamboo Creek, Tuseneng, Kokshebai, Kanapang, Kaibarupai, Churikadnau, Pai Pang.