Acreages for hot pepper production have increased during the second quarter of this year when compared for the same period in 2017. Production data compiled by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) shows that in 2017 approximately 513.8 acres were cultivated while 517.8 acres were cultivated within the second quarter of 2018.
During a recent interview with this publication, Dr. Oudho Homenauth reiterated data from the Institute’s 2017 Annual Report. Apparently, local hot pepper farmers produced 16,780.8 metric tons of peppers in 2017. This is a significant increase from 2016 which saw a production of only 10,744.76 metric tons.
Dr. Homenauth related that there are many factors that could be attributed to the increased acreages as well as production. Notably is access to the domestic market where there is great demand for locally by processors and household consumption. Majority of the hot peppers produced are consumed locally with a small quantity being exported to Canada, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, he emphasized.
Easy access to hot peppers year-round is an encouraging factor to processors. UMAMI Inc, a local agro-processing company utilizes the Scotch Bonnet and Tiger Teeth varieties of hot peppers to make pepper sauce.
The company has been producing hot pepper sauce in 155ml, 397ml, 794ml and 4l packaging since 2013. All peppers utilized in the production process are purchased from local farmers throughout Guyana. The company usually sources about one ton of peppers weekly.
Michelle Reidwald, a representative of UMAMI related that the quality of peppers being sourced from farmers is important to the company. As such, quality control is done internally as well as on produce being supplied. The involvement of farmers in the process is crucial.
And, indeed farmers have an important role to play in ensuring production remains high. Sahadeo Baldeo has been intercropping hot peppers with other crops for the past 15 years. For the past six months he has been harvesting at least 3,000 pounds of peppers weekly from 5,000 roots of peppers.
“The price is good on the market currently…tiger teeth pepper is being sold for $100 per pound wholesale…While that price is encouraging to a farmer…I am mindful of a fungus that seems to be affecting my crop…So I am trying to get as much as I can and change to another crop in the meantime,” the farmer said.
Dr. Homenauth related that NAREI is aware of this fungus that sometimes affects hot pepper plants.
Farmers are encouraged to practice good farming hygiene and use fungicide. Regardless of the challenge it seems that 2018 may be another record breaking year for hot pepper production, he added.
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