Government helping Linden to produce more food through LEAP
A GINA feature by Michelle Johnson
Guyana Chronicle
November 5, 2002

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THE Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) employs a seven-component operation to enhance the economic situation of the Linden Community.

The Business Incubator (BI), LEAP, Inward Investment Fund, and the Business Development Unit (BDU) are among those components to be used for the economic development of the area.

The Business Advisory Service Unit has already begun its operation, concentrating on the non-financial aspects of farmers and commercial products. A two-day workshop was conducted in September for farmers and potential farmers in the area, and it was well attended.

Agricultural Advisor Oswald Quamina, a successful farmer has already been advising farmers on how to develop their crops as well as alternatives that are more viable and profitable.

LEAP has been able to produce 15 profiles of crops, which can be sustained in the Linden area.

Potential farmers as well as present farmers, will be given information from LEAP to help them take advantage of the market, through training and guidance under the BI and the BDU.

Some of the crops identified are sweet potatoes, cassava, ochro, bora, tomatoes, peppers and corn. Profiles have also been created for the management of chickens.

LEAP's management observed that approximately 90 per cent of the food consumed in Linden comes from outside of that community, despite the fertile potential of the area as well as the landscape for large-scale production.

Region Ten possesses the advantages of abundant land and natural resources, plus good transport links with the coast and the capital.

The profiles provided give details on the marketing of the product, the soil and climate requirements, anticipated yield and start-up costs. Surveys conducted in June shows that the Region consumes 700 pounds of hot peppers and 200 pounds of sweet peppers monthly but only 200 pounds of hot peppers and 100 pounds of sweet peppers are produced in Linden. A similar pattern follows for other crops consumed by the community.

The surveys taken of the consumption patterns of the Region reveal the high probability for viable investments with excellent yields and good economic returns.

LEAP will also provide information on plant protection, nutritional composition of the crop and current market prices.

For broiler production, information on the market, rearing conditions, cost of production and all other valuable information regarding materials for their management is also detailed.

Important information is also available to the potential farmer. According to Managing Director of LEAP, John Toner, potential businessmen are unaware of the vast resources of the area, as well as the potential of various markets. This is where LEAP comes in, to inform farmers of the potentials of the area and provide the necessary information to guide their investment.

LEAP will also assist those in need of financial assistance in the preparation of business proposals to acquire loans.

LEAP thinks "the creation of an environment conducive to entrepreneurs in Linden would entail the development of a local market for business advisory and financial services, as well as improvements in infrastructure as part of efforts to attract national and foreign investment in the Region".

Linden, a mining community for over 80 years, has faced its share of economic hardships. However, the Government in collaboration with the European Union has devised a programme to ensure viability for that Region with the injection of some $2.2B and the programme LEAP.