Linden Economic Advancement Programme moving successfully
-- says Local Manager

Guyana Chronicle
January 31, 2003

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THERE are no interruptions to the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) in the mining town.

Late last year Project Manager of LEAP, John Toner, resigned his post for "a number of differences" between himself and his contracting firm Trans State based in Brussels.

Mr. Donald Nurse, Local Manager of LEAP, said the resignation of Toner has not affected the quarterly and global work plan of the programme.

"Everything continued as planned," Nurse said.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), for the most part the agricultural component of the programme is moving on successfully.

On Tuesday, local managers hosted an awareness workshop for redundant employees of the bauxite company LINMINE so that they may have access to the facilities provided by LEAP in the areas of agriculture, processing and production opportunities.

LEAP also made available information on opportunities in the area, as well as information on how to develop proposals to access finance from any institution.

LEAP is working in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED) and the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest).

LEAP's own Linden Economic Advancement Fund (LEAF) is expected to come on stream later this year, GINA said.

In June last year, a survey was done on the state of agriculture in Linden, since there was no readily available information.

The agency said it was realised that 90 per cent of vegetables consumed in the community came from outside the mining town while some 80 per cent of the poultry came from outside of Linden as well.

All the fish products came from outside the community too, and were sold for more than 100 per cent of the original cost, according to GINA.

It said other findings were that farmers were not educated to do proper farming; farmers had no titles to their land and needed to have 'hands-on' experience on how to upgrade their production practices.

The majority of these issues have been dealt with by LEAP, it said.

GINA said the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys has released more than 90 leases for Kwaknani and nine in West Watooka.

It is anticipated that by the end of this year all leases applied for in 2002 and before will be distributed.

LEAP is of the opinion that with proper extension services and funding there will be greater productivity by Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) farmers, the agency said. There are about 400 farmers in the area.

The programme is aiming to get all farmers in Region 10 to form an association. They have already been able to lease a plot of land so that farmers may sell their products at the Linden Market every Thursday, GINA said.

LEAP executives feel that farmers in the area have more products on the markets now than before, it added.

The agency said farmers are also aiming to produce enough to safely satisfy the entire community of Region 10, and later on, to produce for external markets.

On February 1, there will be a workshop for farmers on poultry production while on February 8 there will be a workshop on crop production.

Agricultural/Economic Specialist with the Programme, Mr. Oswald Quamina, said: "Farmers are enthusiastic about the project."

GINA said that through the seminars and workshops, farmers will be exposed to farming practices at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), at DIDCO and at Bounty Farm.

The project is managed by the Government of Guyana, LEAP, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Linden Chamber of Commerce and the Linden Town Council.

LEAP operates on a $2.2 billion budget.

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