“The correctness of the Coalition government’s policy is evident, today, when the world is experiencing food shortages…” – Winston Jordon

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Dear Editor,
I refer to Peeping Tom’s column, “The PNC/R is predictable”, published in Kaieteur
News, Sunday, May 29, 2022. In particular, I reference the statement, “No one said
anything also when APNU+AFC rolled out its Rural Agricultural Infrastructural
Development (RAID) project in Ithaca, Buxton, Beterverwagting and Mocha. No one
complained then about neglect.” This statement was made apparently to blunt the
justifiable criticisms made by the Opposition Leader about the neglect of the mainly
African-Guyanese communities of Zambia and Little Africa in Black Bush Polder. I will
now use this opportunity to provide background and context to the RAID project.

Under the minority PPP/C government of President Donald Ramotar, the CARICOM
Development Fund (CDF) was approached for a loan to fund farm-to-market roads in
selected areas of the country. On July 6, 2013, loan (GUY/L0001): Guyana/CDF Access
Road Project, was signed in the amount of US$11 million. The purpose of the loan was to
construct four roads and bridges to enable farmers to improve access to farms and
markets, expand agricultural production by bringing new lands under cultivation and
modernize and expand facilities in Parika, Ruby, Laluni and Onverwagt. At the closing-
out ceremony for the project, held in November, 2016, it was disclosed that 35,000
persons and 9,500 households benefitted directly from the project. So successful was
the project that a second phase was contemplated to provide even more benefits to these
same areas.

Immediately after the Coalition government entered Office, in May, 2015, I engaged the
CDF about a new Country Assistance Programme (CAP), 2015-2020. Given the
government’s expressed intention of bringing development to all parts of the country, I
related to the CDF that we would prefer that the project’s objectives and success be
replicated in other areas of the country, especially previously neglected areas. This
stance resulted in the RAID project being conceptualized and a loan and grant
agreement signed in December, 2016. It targeted Buxton, Beterverwagting, Ithaca and
Mocha. These are all communities with a history of farming; they possess rich
agricultural lands which remained unutilized/underutilised because of poor drainage,
among other depressing socio-politico-economic factors. Specifically, therefore, the
RAID project was aimed at bringing 2500 acres of abandoned lands back into cultivation, organizing 1200 farmers into cooperatives, and supplying excavators,
tractors, pumps to clear and plough the lands, among other worthy objectives.

The correctness of the Coalition government’s policy is evident, today, when the world is
experiencing food shortages, and CARICOM is seeking to cut the region’s food import
bill by 25% by 2025. It is rather unfortunate for the RAID project to be cited by Peeping
Tom in the manner that he/she did. In doing so, he/she may have unwittingly provided
the reason why the project has been beset with problems and implementation
difficulties over the past 18 months. Wither Guyana!


Yours faithfully,
Winston Jordan
Former Minister of Finance

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