Remarks by Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance at the Signing Ceremony for a Loan to Finance Agricultural Development in Guyana
International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) Headquarters
Rome, Italy, March 21, 2017
Your Excellency, President Kanayo F. Nwanze, other officials of the Bank, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is always an enchanting and riveting experience to visit the ancient city of Rome. The architecture, the history, the people, the food – these are all exotic elements of this land that always make for memorable visits.
It is also a privilege to visit Rome for the first time in my capacity of Minister of Finance for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, having traversed this landscape in 1988 and 1989.
Since acceding to Office, in May 2015, my Government has undertaken an analysis of the factors that are impeding real growth in Guyana. The findings of this modest, but in- depth, analysis have led to the following observations:
- Since Independence in 1966, the Guyanese economy has remained un-diversified. Guyana’s “bread and butter sector”, the agricultural sector, also, remained unchanged, with heavy reliance on two primary crops: sugar and rice.
- There is a spatial and developmental divide between the coastland and the hinterland of Guyana. The coastland, which is a narrow strip along the Atlantic Ocean, is home to over 90% of Guyana’s population. However, it is vulnerable to the very real threats and gripping terrors that climate change presents. On the other hand, even though the hinterland region of Guyana boasts rich soils, exotic fauna and flora, pristine rainforests and endless natural resources wealth, including gold, diamond and bauxite, to name a few, the hinterland remains a largely un-inhabited area, with limited business opportunities and underdeveloped infrastructure.
- The Private Sector, which is expected to be the engine of growth, has suffered from a lack of adequate, customised and easy access to financing. Our Small Business Sector, especially small scaled farmers, remain largely under developed with unsophisticated tools, constrained financing and limited focus on traditional crops, sugar and rice.
Growth in the agricultural sector has always been seen as an important element in the plan for reducing poverty, developing financial resilience and providing the good life for all of our peoples. Some of the strategies through which this can occur are:
- increasing production and improving the quality of traditional crops
- facilitating and supporting efforts to link small farmers to dynamic markets
- increasing adaptation to climate change and pursuing a green growth pathway
- deepening ownership and access to land by small farmers and indigenous communities.
It is against this backdrop that the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Development Project, “Hinterland Project”, was designed.
This US$10.89 million operation is expected to boost the Government’s efforts in diversifying the economy, with special focus on the Agricultural Sector, by shifting small farmers from traditional crops to the farming of non-traditional, in demand crops, with high value added potential. This, in turn, will open up new markets and new trade agreements for Guyana.
The impending loan will also support Government’s drive to link the Coastland to the Hinterland by opening up new farming communities in the hinterland region, Region #9, and the higher interior lands of Region #1. The creation of these new opportunities within these newly re-invigorated communities will also foster stronger local government and local community participation, thereby promoting growth through added human resources. In short, this project will:
- Support communities and producer groups within communities to identify investment opportunities and managed economic and climate risks. It is expected that some 4,500 households will benefit.
- Develop business plans and investment and income generating opportunities as well as increase market access. Some 2,000 households will be targeted.
- Facilitate increased access to assets that build community resilience and create an enabling productive environment such as water, energy and ICT.
My Government’s strategies to support the work of small-scale farmers will also be realised through the establishment of financing instruments to farmers who reside in Regions 1&9.
In closing, Mr. President, I acknowledge the efforts of the staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), staff of our Ministry of Agriculture and my own staff in the Ministry of Finance who worked feverishly towards designing this key operation for Guyana’s Agricultural Sector. We are most grateful!
Mr. President, as Guyana enters into the dawn of a new phase of its economic and social development, we will continue to count on IFAD’s financing and expertise to realise our vision, goals and objectives in the Agriculture sector.
I thank you!