US$5.3M initiative launched to support farmers & build food security in the C’bean

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Soya beans under cultivation in Guyana

Building food security took a leap forward on Wednesday, January 24, when the United States Government, through the United States Agency for Development (USAID), in partnership with Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC), formally launched the regional agricultural program Caribbean Agricultural Productivity Improvement Activity (CAPA). This initiative will spark investments to increase efficiency and reliability in growing and accessing food so that farmers can better nourish families, communities, and nations.

Attendees at this event, including senior government officials from Guyana, Dominica, Suriname, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the University of Guyana, and partner organizations, affirmed support that investing in smallholder farmers is critical to tackling food insecurity. CAPA, a three-year, US$5.3 million USAID-funded initiative will help farmers increase fruit and vegetable productivity; build relationships between buyers, suppliers, and farmers; and improve farm-level extension systems.

“USAID is committed to supporting the Caribbean in unlocking the full potential of its agricultural sector,” said Mervyn Farroe, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Representative. Mr. Farroe reiterated that CAPA is one of several initiatives supported by USAID, another being the Farmer-to-Farmer program.

Secretary General of CARICOM Dr. Carla Barnett stressed the importance of the project reaching the intended beneficiaries to improve food security while creating wealth and economic development for the region. Dr. Barnett referred to several initiatives spearheaded by CARICOM, including the highly successful Caribbean Week of Agriculture, the approval of several long-standing policies by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to enable greater intra-regional trade, and the upcoming CARICOM Development Partners Meeting on Food Security.

U.S. Ambassador Nicole D. Theriot noted that CAPA grew out of the Ninth Summit of the America and stands as a swift response from the U.S. Government. It is a major pillar of PACC2030, the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030. CAPA will address food insecurity challenges facing the region, exacerbated by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war, the ongoing climate crisis, rising food prices, and the disruption to supply chains. Ambassador Theriot affirmed the significance of CAPA in supporting improved smallholder access to markets and integration into value chains, as well as providing agritech and climate smart technology opportunities with small and medium agribusinesses and farmers.

CAPA will be rolled out in Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago. The regional office for CAPA is based in Guyana. CAPA will also provide virtual capacity building and knowledge sharing events for stakeholders throughout the Eastern and Southern Caribbean region.