– 500-acre organic fruit farm to be established in Berbice River
– Plantain chips factories for Parika and Leguan
Stressing that Crop Diversification is an ongoing exercise, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, has
revealed that under the auspices of National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), several new crop types were introduced in 2016.
These include breadfruit, melons, sweet potatoes and sweet peppers. New introductions will continue in 2017, the Minister said, especially those crops that can withstand the vagaries of climate change.
Minister Holder stated that despite the adverse effects of El Nino, prices for fruits and vegetables remained stable throughout 2016. This was ‘basically’ due to the relevant and appropriate technologies being disseminated by the Institute.
He added that these technologies included shaded cultivation and the efficient use of water.
“Our intention is to establish demonstration farms/farmer field schools in all our regions in 2017 to promote relevant and appropriate farming technologies. NAREI will continue to work with the private sector to further enhance agricultural development nationally,” Holder said.
He gave an example where NAREI will be working collaboratively with Amazon Caribbean Guyana Ltd. (AMCAR) on the establishment of a 500-acre organic fruit farm at Herstelling in the Berbice River.
An initial, 100 acres will be established in 2017 and the production would be processed for the export market.
Mangrove management/restoration has also been an integral component of NAREI’s work programme. In 2016 brushwood groynes were constructed at Walton Hall and Lusignan.
In addition, 5000 mangrove seedlings were also planted at Better Hope, the Minister said.
He stated that in 2017, new groynes will be constructed at Columbia and Aberdeen and these sites will be continuously monitored for their effectiveness in reducing overtopping as well for promoting natural mangrove regeneration.
“NAREI continues to place emphasis on the other crops sector, which is of vital importance to our economy from both a food and nutrition security standpoint as well as for exports.
“This sector recorded a 2.5% growth by mid-2016.”
Minister Holder stated that the coconut subsector was given much prominence in 2016 which culminated with the Coconut Festival last October.
“As we are all aware, coconut ranks after rice and sugar, both in terms of acreage and exports. A coconut roadmap was finalized in 2016 to further catapult this important commodity.
The roadmap was a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors and adopted by the Ministry. Over the next ten years, it is intended that the Guyana coconut industry will demonstrate consistent growth rates, rising from severe underdevelopment to a fully integrated economic partner at national, regional and global levels.”
In 2017, coconut nurseries will be operationalized at Mon Repos, Wakenaam and the Pomeroon for expansion of the industry.
The government, the Minister said, would also be looking at importing specialised planting material for distribution to farmers. A lot of emphasis, he added, will also be placed on value-added coconut products especially coconut water and virgin coconut oil.
“We have seen expansion in acreages in the Pomeroon and the establishment of a coconut water bottling facility in that region.”
The Minister said, also, that the Government has been very supportive of the coconut industry. The sum of $49 million was allocated for the acquisition of chemicals to treat palms that were affected by the red palm mite —an on-going exercise.
To date, more than 1,400 farmers have been the beneficiaries of this exercise.
“We recognize that Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the long term solution for managing the red palm mite. Consequently, the utilization of natural enemies and other green agricultural practices would be employed to combat this problem.”
“It is also significant to note, that we have made significant progress in managing the Black Sigatoka Disease affecting plantain/banana production.
In 2016, we should be recording our highest plantain production ever – in excess of 70,000 tons. This will be further increased in 2017 to supply the plantain chip factories to be operationalized at Parika and Leguan.”
As it relates to cassava, Holder said that the Government will be placing more emphasis on mechanized cassava planting and harvesting in the savannahs as well as on the coastland.
“Emphasis will be placed on the production of cassava flour, for which markets exist. Support for these enterprises will be forthcoming from the Government of Colombia.
“In this regard, a modern cassava flour mill would become operationalized under this project.”
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