The need for communities to be engaged in more self-help, was emphasised during the Thursday meeting of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) in Bina Hill, Annai, Region Nine.
The meeting was in preparation for the upcoming National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference, which will be held from August 21 to 26 at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) in Georgetown. Community leaders, including Toshaos and Senior Councillors, Community Development Officers (CDOs) and District Development Officers (DDO’s) of communities in the South Rupununi, participated in the meeting.
The participants highlighted developments within their respective communities whilst raising issues and challenges. Of immediate concern for the community leaders was the urgent need for repairs to the 12-mile long farm road in the Annai sub-District. The road was destroyed during the recent floods.
During his address Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock explained that only one mile of the road was budgeted for in the 2018 Budget. He urged the community to collaborate and employ self-help to repair a few more miles of the road.
“It can be done in phases, all you have to do is use your tractors and pickups and do it as a small community project. Once you start to do that we are going to see that you are trying and help is going to come, this is about partnership,” the Minister told the gathering.
The community leaders agreed to organise themselves and begin repairs of the farm roads in a timely manner, as their livelihoods depend on it.
Markets for by-products such as farine in the North was the next big-ticket item discussed. Minister Allicock issued a gentle reminder of the importance of conducting market research, particularly the availability of markets, before planning and engaging in any farming activity or project.
“Before you start projects you must strategise a plan for markets… you cannot continue to make hundreds of pounds of farine and do not have markets, that is not wise thinking. You must have a plan,” Minister Allicock said.
To invite buyers for their available produce, the Minister urged the community leaders to utilise the Paimowak radio
station in Annai to promote their businesses. “Go to the radio station… to disseminate information, let the people know that you have farine wasting here because there are communities who need these things,” Minister Allicock urged.
As it relates to community projects, the Minister noted that the NRDDB is the medium through which the leaders can submit project proposals to the Ministry and the Regional Administration. He urged those present to capitalise on the opportunities being offered to them, “for example Aranaputa can extend their peanut butter factory and the government will be willing to support such projects which will bring development to the people.”
Other projects funded by the community were also highlighted, whilst the Toshaos were urged to engage their villagers and develop projects to submit to the ministry for funding.
Issues of land rights and mining among others will be addressed at the NTC next week. DPI