The Pomeroon River is a remote area in the North-West of Guyana. To travel there from Georgetown, I had to use a combination of cars and boats. Once I was there, in the lush expanse of winding waterways and walls of trees, it was a very peaceful place and a far cry from my typical work day that sees me glued to a computer.
Children are paddling their way home from school, boats are being filled with produce for market, beautiful birds are perched along the edge of the river, and no internet connection in most places meant that I was not a slave to devices.
However, those same elements that created a temporary oasis for me are hobbling residents in their pursuit of development. While in the Pomeroon I interacted with a number of community members who expressed the desire to accelerate the changing of the status quo, and were actively seeking new business opportunities beyond the Compete Caribbean funded project that I was there to launch.
The project supports the strengthening of a local Farmers Association, increasing the ability of farmers to meet regional market demands, and reducing the reliance on coconut farming by diversifying. The cluster that requested this project includes 150 farms that collectively span over 8,000 acres of land. There is a lot of excitement and expectation surrounding this project.
This area has a natural endowment of highly fertile soil and constant water access that enable it to grow an impressive array of produce. It represents an unharnessed opportunity to increase sustainable farming to meet regional demands and improve the standard of living for residents. The area does have challenges, such as its isolation from markets and a shift of new generations away from farming and into mining. Yet, there is an evident appetite for change that I hope will persevere and continue to seek strategies to empower residents through green business development. My hope for the people of this area is that if I returned in five years, I would see evidence of more community-designed programs that have created an environment in which people are enticed to live and work in the Pomeroon because of the opportunities it presents.