Guyana, the third smallest country in South America consists of a population of approximately 747,884 Guyanese. It is the only English speaking country in South America, mainly due to Guyana being colonized by the British. Guyana is also the poorest county in South America.
After once following a series of inward looking policies, the economy during the late 1970’s to 1980’s entered into a period of depression. With the elimination of a properly functioning private market system and the consequential disincentive for entrepreneurial and investment activities a depression was inevitable. The secular decline of the economy and the consequential deteriorated state of the country’s infrastructure and depressed socio-economic conditions led the Government to seek assistance from the multilateral lending agencies (IMF) by the end of the 1980s. The Economic Recovery Program (ERP), 1988, was the response to these instabilities.
Following trade liberalisation under the IMF-imposed structural adjustment programme in 1989, Guyana has seen the intensification of trade and is now considered one of the most open countries of the Caribbean region and one of the ten most trade-dependent countries in the world. Trade is therefore indispensable to social and economic welfare in Guyana (Dodson and DaSilva-Glasgow, 2013).
Agriculture is a key component of output in Guyana, accounting for approximately 28 percent of real GDP as of 2015. Developments in agriculture are highly dependent on output of key products, with varying shares in the sector’s output, primarily sugar and rice, which in 2015 represented 18 percent and 20 percent of agricultural production respectively. Rice and sugar are also the most heavily exported agricultural produce; however their importance has changed in recent years. Rice is now seen as the largest agricultural produce to be exported.
In light of the expansion of the rice industry, the aim of my research is to exploit such growth in export revenue to shed lights on the impact that trade liberalisation has on households in Guyana in terms of poverty alleviation, gender impact and family formation.