The Ministry of Agriculture on Monday harvested its first batch of carrots and beets from demonstration plots at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) and the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), located at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.
This initiative is part of the growing effort to intensify the diversification programme of non-traditional crops, all with the aim of reducing the country’s dependence on the importation of key commodities.
It was noted that as of now, Guyana imports about $200M worth in carrots and beets. The Ministry of Agriculture is aiming to end the importation of these two products by the year 2020.
Just recently, Minister Ramsammy reiterated the call for countries within the Region to use Guyana’s achievements as a model to follow and to advance its agricultural sector to another level.
In an effort to further develop the sector through research and knowledge sharing, the two entities embarked on the planting of a number of non-traditional produce. Most of these have been successful thus far. Among the crops currently grown at GSA and NAREI are garlic, carrot, turmeric, ginger, chick peas and English potatoes, which were recently harvested.
Farm Manager and Lecturer of the GSA, Bissessar Chintamani underscored the importance of growing non-traditional crops. He added that since much research has been done at the level of the Guyana School of Agriculture, through assistance from NAREI, the end produce has been a success.
He called on farmers to tap into the pilot projects, noting that through assistance from the GSA and NAREI, Guyana can produce these commodities on a large scale.
“Thus far, we have not encountered any major agronomic problems. The varieties tested have had great successes in terms of yield, but we are yet to test other varieties…this programme will go a very far way in addressing commercial agriculture as it has since been proven feasible,” Chintamani said.
Investment in demonstration plots at GSA and NAREI to plant carrots started in February, with the impetus from Dr. Ramsammy, who charged the management of the entities to get involved in sound applied research.
Meanwhile, Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer of NAREI stated that while the traditional sectors have been the backbone of Guyana’s economy, there has been a need to push for the advancement of non-traditional crops, so as to give stakeholders better chance of increasing their investment returns.
Dr. Homenauth said that the introduction of such commodities can significantly assist in building the capacity of farmers, especially those on a small scale level. The pursuance of non-traditional crops is also expected to encourage persons to get more involved in diversifying Guyana’s agriculture industry.
Dr. Ramsammy also spoke of the country’s huge food import bill, noting that this situation will only continue if there is no seriousness about agriculture in the Region.
To this end, Minister Ramsammy said that he is committed to ensuring that the sector continues to implement several such initiatives, which are aimed at further developing new areas for cultivation.
He pointed out that significant achievements were made over the years as it relates to improving services offered to farmers, so as to support further agricultural development.
“We will continue to ensure that such projects are further propelled and through assistance from NAREI and GSA, the country will continue to boost its non-traditional crop sector…significant research is being done at the level of NAREI to ensure that farmers can tap into the additional production of such crops,” Minister Ramsammy said.
To ensure that farmers receive the much needed support, the Agriculture Ministry has embarked on a revamped extension services programme, incorporating new initiatives that include training of farmers, residents and extension officers, as well as the development of several Farmers’ Manual as a form of technical assistance as well as the completion of its Vision 20/20 strategy, which serves as a model for the sector to follow.
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