11.I BASIC FEATURES OF THE SECTOR
11.I.1 The institutions which service the sugar and rice
industries have already been described. Those which support the non-traditional
crops and livestock sector are the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of
Fisheries, Crops and Livestock; the Ministry of Regional Development; the
Regional Democratic Councils, the National Agricultural Research Institute; the
University of Guyana; and the Guyana School of Agriculture. This list is not
exhaustive, but it contains the main agencies.
11.I.2 The Ministries of Agriculture (MOA), and Fisheries,
Crops and Livestock (MFCL) are at the centre of the sector. They formulate
policies and monitor their implementation. They also collect, process, analyse
and disseminate relevant information.
11.I.3 The Ministry of Agriculture comprises the Lands and
Surveys and the Hydrometeorology and Planning Departments; the Ministry of
Fisheries, Crops and Livestock is composed of the Crops and Livestock, and the
11.I.4 The Crops and Livestock Department is primarily
responsible for the provision of technical and extension services to the farming
communities. Associated with the Ministries' extension activities are the
following organisations and units that are all functioning far below their
optimum and need to be rehabilitated if extension capabilities are to be
enhanced - the Agricultural In-service Training Communication Centre (AITCC),
which was developed as a centre to provide agricultural information and to train
farmers and extension personnel; the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory which
provides parasitology, haematology, pathology, microbiology and other diagnostic
support to the livestock rearing community (this laboratory is currently not
operational); and the Livestock Station at Mon Repos, which was originally
designed as a centre for livestock research in the Ministry of Agriculture. It
has now been transferred to NARI.
11.I.5 The present functions of the National Agricultural
Research Institute (NARI) are to advise on, and develop, appropriate systems to
promote balanced, diversified and sustained agricultural development and
optimise agricultural production through adaptive and investigative research;
and to facilitate the use of improved production technology by agricultural
producers, and establish adequate feedback systems for them in order to achieve
and maintain national self-sufficiency and export capacities in food and
11.I.6 An Agricultural Research Committee advises the Minister
on matters of policy relating to agricultural research; supervises and controls
the functioning and activities of the Institute; approves, oversees and
evaluates the programmes being implemented by the Institute; and gives general
and technical guidance to NARI's Director.
11.1.7 At its inception, the overall objective of the National
Dairy Development Programme, which was established in 1984, was to achieve
national self-sufficiency in fresh milk by 1988. However, the mandate of the
NDDP was expanded and its mission statement was subsequently modified to read as
follows:- "to spearhead the development thrust of a self-sustaining,
self-regulating, economic viable cattle industry within the context of national
self-sufficiency in milk and dairy products, beef and beef products, and the
export of these commodities."
11.I.8 The original Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) was
created in 1963. The Corporation operated like the typical marketing board of
many developing countries at that time. It bought all farm products offered to
it at a predetermined price, and then sold the produce to consumers at various
outlets and from trucks going from house to house. Perhaps not unexpectedly
there were tremendous losses. Accordingly, in 1985 the policy of the Guyana
Marketing Corporation was changed drastically. There was a total cessation of
all buying and selling operations, and a mandate to provide market facilitation
services to the private sector for the export of non-traditional agricultural
produce, facilitate local market development, develop and disseminate
post-harvest technology, conduct market research and provide market intelligence
services to farmers was adopted. In 1997, the "new" Guyana Marketing Corporation
resumed the buying of farmers' produce, but at prices that are negotiated
directly with them. Moreover, only quality produce, for which there is a ready
demand, is bought.
11.I.9 There is also a Technology Transfer Unit which develops
and provides training on grading, storage, packaging and the transportation
requirements for quality produce; promotes the production of non-traditional
crops specifically for the export market; develops and documents the steps
involved in exporting perishables to specified markets; and provides market
11.I.10 In addition, there is a Commercial/Market Policy Unit,
the aims of which are to provide a one-stop documentation service for exporters
of agricultural produce; carry out market research for the private sector for a
fee; make available certain kinds of approved packaging for exporting produce;
and advise the government on agricultural marketing policy for non-traditional
11.I.11 The Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) offers both a
certificate and a diploma programme in agriculture. The certificate programme is
a two-year course with a strong practical bias and is intended for youths with a
full primary education, who have attained the age of seventeen. It is designed
to equip young people for successful farming careers. The diploma programme is a
sub-professional two-year course designed for students with a secondary school
11.I.12 The Regional Educational Programme for Animal Health
Assistants (REPAHA) conducts a diploma programme similar to the GSA's and trains
students in Animal Health and Animal Production. A survey which was undertaken
in the early 1990s has indicated that employers of REPAHA graduates want them to
have some competence in animal production and agribusiness management also. This
deficiency has been addressed and at the 1994 graduating exercise, the first
group of students graduated in Animal Production from REPAHA.
11.I.13 The University of Guyana currently offers two first
degree programmes which are conducted by the Faculties of Agriculture and
Education. The programme offered by the Faculty of Agriculture is a four-year
course and leads to a general Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. The
Faculty of Education offers a Bachelor of Education degree, with an option in
11.I.14 Within the existing Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs)
the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) are meant to be an institutional
structure through which plans and decisions, regarding the needs of farmers and
communities in general, can be co-ordinated. There are, in addition, several
quasi-governmental entities (e.g. SIMAP) as well as non-governmental and other
organizations (co-operatives, producer associations, etc.) which operate at the
11.II ISSUES AND CONSTRAINTS
11.II.1 Poor definition of the roles of this plethora of
public and private sector agricultural institutions hinders their performance,
and leads to the fragmentation of planning, policy analysis and product
implementation capacity. Government institutions must ensure that the activities
that they perform are those that the private sector cannot effectively
undertake. Because of the budgetary constraints facing the public sector,
there have been some reductions in staffing and the shedding of many services
(e.g. extension services and the supply of inputs) traditionally provided by the
MOA, the MFCL, and other agricultural support institutions.
11.II.2 The capacity in the MOA and the MFCL for policy review
is weak. A further disadvantage is an orientation that is based on the
management of centrally provided as opposed to community based services.
Moreover, low levels of emoluments in the public service militate against the
provision of high quality administrative and planning services. Severe financial
constraints have also led to an inadequate availability of equipment and
supplies, further limiting the effectiveness of the Ministries' staff.
11.II.3 In terms of agricultural products, there is a
dualistic institutional structure characterised on the one hand, by
well-organized marketing and other support arrangements for the major export
products of rice and sugar; and by fragmented, under-funded and ineffective
arrangements for non-traditional crops and livestock, on the other.
11.II.4 There are poor and inadequate linkages among
institutions, and poor communications among departments of the MOA and the MFCL.
11.II.5 Agricultural technological services are often provided
in a context in which important infrastructure and non-agricultural services are
not in place. This lack of an integrated approach leads to the poor absorption
of technology. In addition, the Ministries' operations are characterized by a
limited interface between clients and the planning and executing services. This
often results in poor feedback and, consequently, a lack of relevance of plans
11.II.6 A general concern in the provision of public
agricultural services is that they are not targeted to rural households of
modest means. More well-off farmers can afford to, and do, bring in their own
private extension advisers on such matters as crop varieties, planting and
cultivating strategies. Obviously this option is out of the question for the
poorer farmers. Extension services are one hundred percent subsidised, and
therefore the question must be posed as to whether it is justified to provide
such services, at the expense of the tax payers, to rich clients.
11.II.7 Similar observations can be made in the case of
livestock services, and in regard to the assistance provided in the adoption of
better post-harvest practices.
11.II.8 The specific constraints on NARI's research programme
are: inadequate contacts with farmers; poor linkages with agricultural extension
and other related organisations in agriculture; inadequate evaluations of
research impact; and a lack of staff motivation, at both the professional and
the sub-professional levels. In addition, the research programme is frequently
not related to the needs of the farming community; does not give sufficient
consideration to the economic and marketing components of production; and do not
efficiently validate research findings before transferring them to the
11.II.9 The remuneration packages paid to staff at NARI are
11.II.10 There is an absence of agribusiness and socio-economic
marketing experts on the staff.
11.II.11 The resources devoted to agricultural research are
minimal and derisory.
11.II.12 In addition to the financial constraints which reduce
the efficiency of almost all the government institutions in Guyana there are
certain basic constraints in regard to the delivery of tertiary agricultural
education: training is too theoretical and lacks a strong practical dimension;
there is a lack of orientation to national problems and conditions; the student
intake is relatively low; there is a lack of basic textbooks and other teaching
aids; and the available human resources are not optimally utilized.
11.II.13 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils have only a limited
role in the mobilisation and disposition of resources and, under current legal
and administrative arrangements, cannot function effectively as providers of
services at the local level. Local authorities have been forced to operate
through a narrow window of influence at the regional level, and have been made
to be responsible primarily to central and regional governmental structures, and
not to their constituents.
11.II.14 Studies of the sector have revealed that the supply of
credit to farmers is limited by factors such as the risks linked to agricultural
production and markets; the sector's small size; and its informal nature.
11.II.15 The penetration of rural areas by commercial banks
is low, leading to inadequate savings, credit mobilisation and delivery. In
addition, this unsatisfactory interface and contact between the banks and the
agricultural producers, coupled with the preference of commercial banks for
asset-based, as opposed to cash-flow, lending, results in an inflexible lending
policy towards the sector. As a consequence, only a small percentage of the
banks' funds are lent for developmental purposes, while an extremely high
percentage is invested in special deposit accounts or Treasury Bills and are
therefore not available for productive lending to the economy. Indeed, current
lending rules and practices effectively exclude from access to institutional and
commercial credit more than eighty percent of Guyana' farm households.
11.III THE OBJECTIVE
To develop institutions which would facilitate the improvement
of the operations of the agricultural sector, by enhancing their efficiency in
providing public services in the production and marketing of agricultural
Specifically, the objectives are to:-
(i) improve institutional support for the development of the
diversified small farm sector;
(ii) give greater priority to the rural poor as beneficiaries
of publicly supplied services;
(iii) improve co-ordination between national and local
institutions so that local communities can access information and resources from
other levels of government;
(iv) improve the effectiveness of production and marketing
organisations in providing economic benefits to their members;
(v) enhance the public sector's capacity to assist these
(vi) enhance the mobilisation of rural savings;
(vii) increase credit delivery to agricultural activities that
are based on rural savings; and
(viii) increase the long-run viability of institutions for
11.IV THE STRATEGY
11.IV.1 A new board will be established to encompass the roles
currently being performed by NARI, NDDP, NGMC and the Crops and Livestock and
Fisheries Departments of the Ministries. The Directors of this Board will be
appointed by, and be answerable to, the Ministers. The GRDB will act as a model
for this Board, which will be named the Guyana Agricultural Research and
11.IV.2 The Board will maintain strong links with, and
co-ordinate and monitor the activities of, non-governmental agencies such as
IICA, CARDI, and FAO, in order to ensure that the work being undertaken in
Guyana by these agencies conforms to the Government's stated policies and
11.IV.3 The Board will be semi-autonomous but, in the first
instance, will be financed through the present current and capital allocations
made to these institutions. However, it will eventually become self-financing
through revenue derived from the operation of an export levy on agricultural
11.IV.4 The membership of the Board will be broad-based, and
will include all interests that are involved in the sector: local government
bodies; community organisations; representatives of the rice and sugar sectors,
and representatives of training institutions.
11.IV.5 Research and extension will be based on the
requirements of producers.
11.IV.6 The main institutions of training i.e. the Guyana
School of Agriculture (GSA) and the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Guyana
(FA/UG) will be strengthened in material and human resources through internal
and external funding so that they may more effectively produce agricultural
scientists and practitioners capable of assisting in the enhancement of Guyana's
agricultural productability and its diversification.
11.IV.7 The University of Guyana Degree Programme will be
improved along two lines: students will be required to have a better scientific
grounding in the early stages of their training programme; and in later stages,
they will be exposed to practical farming situations and be oriented, through
appropriate coursework, field excursions and assignments to actual problems
affecting the agricultural sector.
11.IV.8 Students will be attached for six months, as part of
the course of training, to farms of various sizes and with different production
techniques and practices.
11.IV.9 A higher degree programme will be instituted at the
University of Guyana in which all the available resources, both human and
physical, of NARI, GRDB, GUYSUCO, NGMC and related organisations such as the
Iwokrama and Tropenbos Projects, would participate.
11.1V.10 Government will organise incentive packages for
trained agriculturists aspiring to become farmers, particularly in the provision
of land and in the availability of developmental capital.
11.IV.11 Post office-based savings institutions will be revived
in rural areas.
11.IV.12 A window in the private sector development bank will
be devoted specifically to small farmers.
11.IV.13 Group guarantee schemes such as that of the Grameen
Bank will be instituted.
11.IV.14 In addition, a linked set of rural credit unions, both
for mobilising more rural savings and for retaining more funds in rural areas
through agricultural production and marketing loans, will be