Flood-affected farmers: FAO introduces US$136,000 emergency recovery support
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Tuesday launched its Emergency Response and Early Recovery Support to small holder farmers that were affected by the 2021 mass flooding in both Guyana and Suriname.
This project is geared at providing support for small farmers and institutions in agriculture disaster risk management and flood recovery. Livestock and agricultural resources were handed over to the Agriculture Ministry, comprising of hand tools, seeds, medication and fertilisers to be distributed to affected farmers. This is valued at US$136,000.
Farmers and technical officers also stand to benefit from training to the tune of US$29,000. Over the next two years, they will build capacity in reducing vulnerability of farming communities, reducing threat on food security and supporting farming enterprises. These initiatives will unfold in collaboration with the Guyana Livestock Development Authority and National Agricultural Research and Extension institute (NAREI).
Country representative for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Dr Gillian Smith said they are also looking to build responsiveness, planning and preparedness in the event of future disasters.
“We understand that this is relatively small compared to the commitment that Guyana has already made in terms of supporting farmers and farming communities. We understand, too, that when you look at the contribution to individual farmers, it may look relatively small. But many small farmers, any support that they get makes a huge difference,” she pointed out.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha notified that since the flooding, Government has adapted a robust approach to restore production of both livestock and crops. That support is presently continuing on the ground.
“The Government and through the Ministry of Agriculture would have already supported and bring relief to approximately 50,000 farmers already. That process is ongoing across the country. As I am speaking here, our officers are in the field, trying to complete the mopping up exercise.”
The Minister shared that Government has recognised the importance of sustainable food security, not just for Guyana but the region. Consequently, 2022 will witness the transformation to smart agricultural practices.
Mustapha revealed, “We recognise the importance of agriculture to our economy, to the development of our country. That is why we are not only talking about one sector. We are not only talking about the oil and sector. We recognise that for country to be successful, we have to develop our agriculture sector, to have food security nationally and also to help our sister countries in Caricom.”
Between May and June last year, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across the country, affecting thousands of households. The devastation included submerged buildings and vehicles with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health.
It was noted that the rainfall experienced in May alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years. All 10 administrative regions in Guyana experienced varied levels of flooding, prompting Government to roll out immediate responses. President Ali had declared it a national disaster.
Following extensive fieldwork, the President had announced in a national address that $7.8 billion in flood relief assistance would be provided for citizens and farmers who were affected in all 10 administration regions by the rains and flooding.
A combined assistance to homestead farmers, kitchen gardens and households for these categories was in excess of $3.5 billion.
When it comes to the livestock industry, assistance was given from subsistence to large scale farmers. More than 2000 farmers were affected by the floods and as such, benefitted from over $600 million in direct transfers. In the livestock industry, assistance was broken down into four categories mainly subsistence farmers, small farmers, medium farmers, and large-scale farmers and more than 2000 farmers were affected. (G12)