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—says initiative creating opportunities for women farmers
The school feeding programme in Guyana dates as far back as forty (40) years ago and continues to positively impact the nutrition and health of children and adolescents receiving nursery, primary or secondary education which represents some 48.6% of the total student population in the country.
In Guyana, the National School Feeding Programme is divided into four (4) sub programmes. These are; the Peanut butter and Cassava Bread Snack Programme, the Community-Based Hot Meal Programme, the Juice and Biscuit Snack Programme, and more recently, added the Breakfast Programme.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO)School Feeding Programmes provided school meals to about 388 million schoolchildren in 161 countries, making these programmes the most extensive safety net worldwide. The school meal programme in Guyana is providing healthy and nutritious meals for students while linkingfemale smallholder farmers to local procurement and market initiatives to ensure that they have access to consistent income-generating opportunities.
Blue Flame Women’s Group and School Feeding
The Blue Flame Women’s Group is a women led, community based agro-processing operation based in Hosororo Region 1, Barima- Waini, Guyana which has benefited from the school feeding programme. They produce cassava, cocoa, coffee andcassareep and with the use of a shade house they are growing herbs,tomatoes and vegetables. Cocoa and other raw materials are purchased from farmers in the communityand arethen processed at the group’s factory to make various products. These products are then packaged and sold throughout the country but primarily cater to the Breakfast School Feeding Programmeforfour (4) schools in the Mabaruma.
Christina James, Chairperson of the Group shared that “[they] have been supplying the schools with our locally made cassava bread and our cassareep, seasoning and they were able to purchase some vegetables as well from us. This has been a great help to our group to market our products. The school feeding programme has benefitted me as well as my grandchildren,members of the community and especially all the women in the group who are also farmers.’
Seeing the Results
Over the past year,the FAOin partnership with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security have been implementing a global project titled “Enhancing production and access to nutrition-dense food through social protection programmes”.
Through this project, FAO –Guyana, together with our partnershave been working to deliver on the following products:
– A Rapid Assessment on the state of the national School Feeding Programmes in Guyana
– A Policy Framework for the development of School Feeding Policy of Guyana
– Pilot Design for a Home Grown School Feeding Programme
– An assessment on the status of agricultural production of smallholders farms in Regions 5 and 9
– Development of Farmer Field School Curricula
– Coherence Study and Policy paper on Agriculture and Social Protection programmes in Guyana
The results from these initiatives are promising andshow great potential for increased access to healthy and nutritious food produced locally to the most vulnerable in the country as well as creating sustainable market outlets for small holder farmers and groups such as the Blue Flame Women’s Group.
The Way Forward
Interest in the school feeding programme has grown tremendouslyand with the development of a National School Feeding Policy Framework, we will be able toadvance to a multi-sectoral involvement of various actors, including governments, international organizations, private sector, and civil society as well as the integration of smallholder farmers and groups into the school feeding programme supply network.
For more information on the project, please email us FAOGY@fao.org.