The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is an Upper-middle-income country and the third-smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay. It is home to about 745,000 people, 90 per cent whom live in the country’s coastal plain, and 72 per cent of whom are considered rural.
Guyana has one of the highest rates of emigration in the world, with an estimated 55 per cent of its citizens living abroad. In the rural hinterland, 73.5 per cent of the population was considered poor, as compared to coastal regions, where poverty affected 37 per cent of the population.
Guyana became an oil producing country in 2019, and it is expected to become the country with the highest share of oil barrels per capita. As in many other countries in the region, the share of agriculture in GDP has dropped since the mid-1990s, representing around 12 per cent of GDP in 2019, and employing around 16 per cent of the population. Agriculture is primarily undertaken by smallholder farmers on less than five hectares of land. Agriculture in the hinterland has traditionally been linked to smallholder agriculture, animal husbandry, gathering activities, hunting and fishing, mainly for subsistence. Indigenous peoples, called Amerindians, in accordance with their traditional culture, follow a rotational system of slash-and-burn or shifting agriculture, with most families cultivating cassava. Livestock breeding prevails in the savannah.
The COVID19 crisis has revitalised the importance of agriculture and re-ignited Guyana’s ambition to become the breadbasket of the Caribbean and reduce its food import bill.
IFAD began operations in Guyana over 30 years ago with a focus on the coastal regions and expanding opportunities for small-scale rural producers and strengthening their capacity to develop small enterprises.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, IFAD’s financing aims to catalyse a systemic change in the country’s food system and promote a more inclusive and sustainable food system. Taking advantage of the innovative trends arising in Guyana (agri-tourism, gastronomy, growing service sector, etc.), we aim to support small farmers, women and youth in producing and consuming foods that are nutritious, local, sustainable and affordable. To ensure changes are sustainable over time, we engage in policy dialogue and advocate for the needs of rural poor populations to be at the centre of key policies that affect them.
IFAD is also promoting empowerment of Amerindian communities in the hinterland (interior). We invest in human and social capital for communities to design and implement their own investment plans in a participatory way, with the goal of strengthening their resilience and their capacity to manage economic and climate risks.
A key principle of IFAD’s engagement in the country is the promotion of transparency in governance structures across all operations.
Key activities include:
- supporting communities in identifying investment opportunities to manage economic and climate risk in a participatory way
- investing in community-driven business plans and in collective/public investment plans that improve access to key services (water, energy, ICT, etc.)
- providing training and technical support for the execution of business and community investment plans
- Raising awareness on key development challenges related to gender, nutrition and environmental sustainability.
- strengthening the knowledge and capacity of governmental institutions to engage with smallholder producers, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups
- supporting and contributing to policies on water and natural resource management, and poverty reduction
- empowering institutions, non-governmental organizations and local communities
Guyana is an upper-middle-income country and the third-smallest country in South America, after Suriname and Uruguay. It’s 2019 Human Development Index was the lowest in South America.
With about 745,000 inhabitants, Guyana’s population is highly diverse, with a mix of Indo, Afro and Mixed-heritage Guyanese.
More than 80 per cent of Guyanese with tertiary education have emigrated, robbing Guyana of skilled workers.