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Re: From economic growth to food security and better nutrition

13.11.2012
Final Year Economics Students (group 6)

Can you share specific experiences in which social protection and better food security governance have led to advances in local food security and improved nutrition?

Social protection and improved food security governance is crucial to the survival, development and empowerment of the poor in the developing world.  Guyana is no exception even with its huge endowment of natural resources and the potential to be a leading exporter of agricultural products in the Caribbean.

The Government of Guyana and donor agencies over the years have become increasingly involved in social protection policies and improved food security for vulnerable groups in society. The recently initiated Rice and Beans project in the hinterland village of Moco-Moco are testament to the move by the government and donor agencies to improve the overall economic and social conditions in these communities. It is argued that prevalence of poverty is higher in hinterland regions, projects such as the Rice and Bean project contribute towards improved incomes for persons within these communities. In addition to increased incomes the village population has access the wider variety of foods in addition to their traditional staple diet which leads to improved nutrition.

The Government of Guyana has also encouraged cooperatives in the quest for greater food security and the United Nations essentially embraced the idea of cooperatives with this year’s World Food Day theme “Coops- the key to food security.” Cooperatives in developing countries can play a pivotal role in ensuring food security and social protection by income generating projects especially through agricultural projects.  In Guyana, approximately fifty percent of sugar cane is grown by cooperatives and the private sector. Sugar is one of the largest foreign exchange earners in Guyana hence cooperatives ability to contribute and earn income for their members and increases the overall welfare of the country.

The Mangrove Reserve Women Producers is another example of cooperatives enhancing social protection and food security. This group comprise mostly of women living along communities on the coast of Guyana often they referred to as “country women.”  These women have low levels of education or none at all and have little chances of employment in the formal sectors and a culture of male dependence dominates amongst them. Since this group was organized these women were able to produce a variety of products using local knowledge such as cassava bread, coconut biscuits, local drinks, pepper sauces and dried fruits and meats. They have also engaged in small scale farming and gardening in a variety of crops. It is clearly evident that through organization into cooperatives they were able to produce products for market locally and the potentially for international markets and at the same growing their own food.

Can you tell us about policies that led to better nutritional status as a result of investment into agriculture?
INVESTMENT PROMOTION POLICY
Guyana’s  investment policy regime includes a wide range of instruments to stimulate
and attract new investments into the agricultural sector.

These include:

1.    Tax holidays on pioneering activities
2.    Accelerated depreciation
3.    Export allowances for non-traditional export outside CARICOM
4.    Exemptions on plant, equipment and machinery
5.    Exemption of import duty and consumption tax on fish and seafood processing equipment, refrigerated vehicles, packaging material  and other inputs for seafood processing
6.    Unlimited loss carryover from previous periods

Since 2001, GO-INVEST, the Government of Guyana Investment Agency established in 1994, has been responsible for investment, trade and export promotion activities of the economy. The New Guyana Marketing Corporation (NGMC) is a trade-facilitating institution to support and promote the exports of non-traditional commodities. The NGMC has been mandated to expand the market for local agricultural produce locally, regionally and internationally  Agribusiness and marketing entrepreneurs interested in commodity export activities from  Guyana are provided with advisory support and information services from GO-INVEST. With regard to export promotion, GO-INVEST provides exporters with  trade information, assists in export promotion and advises Government on policy formulation and strategies to stimulate export performance. Investment profiles are also developed to guide investment opportunities.  Duty-free imports and tax holidays are also available to investors on the basis of certain defined criteria. Together, GO-INVEST and NGMC are expected to be in the forefront of the new development paradigm to support the sector’s competitiveness. Further, these institutions are expected to undertake the lead role in export trade facilitation and market intelligence as well as monitoring the effectiveness of promotional instruments in support of the sector’s competitiveness.