Rawle Medford had dabbled in many career opportunities during his earlier years. He is even a Social Work Graduate. But, nothing was as satisfying as farming. For over two decades, Medford has been actively involved in agriculture- planting various cash crops. Within the last decade he has dedicated a large portion of his farm to tiger-teeth sweet pepper.
The Phillipie, Corentyne farmer is now an expert in producing tiger-teeth sweet pepper. He has learnt through trial and error and technical support from the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). He is well versed in land preparation, application of non-synthetic elements, identification of pests, and general farm practices related to the crop.
“I once worked with NAREI so I am familiar with good agricultural practices…However, technologies in the sector are changing to make farming simpler and greener and so I keep up-to-date by the Extension Officers, who visit my farm regularly…For instance, I was experiencing some issues with my peppers and I took NAREI’s advise to add limestone to adjust the Ph level of the soil and the problem was fixed,” he noted.
Standing in his tiger-teeth sweet pepper farm, Medford said “This crop is now in its eighth month and probably has two more months of bearing…There are 1,600 roots of pepper plants here and every week I reap about 300 pounds, which I sell to wholesalers for $60 per pound.”
However, this price is not attractive as it was previously. When Medford started planting this crop a pound was sold for about $340. The high price was an encouraging factor for other farmers to plant the crop. Of course, with increasing supply the price for the crop reduced. All is not lost. Farmers like Medford who plant on high grounds have an advantage during the rainy season.
“This pepper is good for both rainy and sunny climate…S
o when it rains the crop is not obstructed which is good for year-round production…And, during the May/June rains I get good price for the crop because farmers on lower grounds cannot plant since their farms are affected,” he said.
Medford cannot depend on the rainy season for good prices any longer. As such, he started planting titan sweet pepper, which is bigger, sturdier and has a higher market price than the tiger teeth sweet pepper. At the moment, the titan sweet pepper does not enjoy a largeportion of land as its competitor. The farmer intends to increase production of the titan sweet pepper shortly.
“Titan sweet pepper start bearing in six weeks and in the eighth week pepper is full and ready to pick…I will need less pepper to full a bag… And, while people use it all year-round it is in high demand at festive time of the year like Easter and Christmas,” he said.
Medford is cognizant that his two crops have to compete with the Bell sweet pepper that is becoming popular on the market. The Bell sweet pepper, owing to its firmness and shape, is more attractive to consumers. Currently, the Bell Sweet pepper attracts the highest price among the three. As such, Medford plans to grow this crop also. He will do this when he constructs shade houses on his farm.
Several years ago, having this many option of sweet pepper varieties on the local market was unheard of. According to Dr. OudhoHomenauth, CEO of NAREI, the Institute is working with farmers to grow non-traditional crops that are being imported and consumed locally. Sweet pepper is one such crop.
Using the Bell sweet pepper as an example, the CEO noted that in 2014 the crop was introduced for the first time. The initial production was 3,503 kilograms and in 2016 it reached 22,795 kilograms. That indicates that persons are purchasing from local farmers instead of importing.
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