The Inter-American Development Bank has lent Guyana $6.75 million for a project designed to encourage farmers to grow more food for domestic consumption and less sugar cane for export.

The project will improve drainage and irrigation in three areas near the capital, Georgetown, is expected to more land available for crops.

Some areas may yield two annual crops instead of one.

Currently, sugar accounts for about one-third of the total value of Guyana's exports.

Since 1980, the cost of production has increased while international sugar prices have slumped, leaving the country with a surplus of sugar.

Meanwhile, Guyana's rice production remains in the hands of small-scale Indian farmers whose holdings are often less than 2 1/2 acres.

Many of these small plots suffer from inadequate irrigation, and production is poor.

The project will arrange for eight international consultants and 34 local consultants to organize irrigation-improvement efforts in the country.

The consultants will be responsible for clearing land, excavating canals and drains, repairing sea sluices and pumping stations and building bridges and aqueducts.

Once complete, the project should provide Guyana with more land to grow rice, vegetables, fruits and tubers such as cassava, sweet potatoes and yams.

The bank has also given approval to a loan of $803,100 for technical assistance, part in the form of a grant and part on a contingent recovery basis.

The money will be used to carry out studies and provide training to local farmers.

The total cost of the project is $9 million with the balance of $2.25 million being paid by the government of Guyana.