Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud on Saturday hosted an outreach exercise in Region Two where seeds were shared out and farmers urged to diversify their crops to boost livelihoods.
According to a Govern-ment Information Agency (GINA) press release Wakapao, Friendship and Charity residents were told that government is mulling a revised hinterland programme to provide better living conditions.
GINA said the agriculture ministry is focusing on transforming the village economy by expanding the ‘Grow more’ campaign. In his address the minister said the campaign would be “more commercially based in moving communities from subsistence to commercial practices.” Farmers who had been affected by heavy rainfall during the last rainy season were given seeds and other planting materials including coffee and citrus plants.
In Friendship, Persaud told residents that suckers and cassava sticks would be provided to get them started on cultivating the land. He also said the Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Development project would target small farmers for assistance. A significant amount of land has been earmarked for agricultural development at Aurora to boost productivity there.
The minister also urged residents to get involved in the diversification programme since this would boost their earning capacity. He said spices and aquaculture are two areas that would be pursued in hinterland communities. A cassava grater would also be donated to Wakapao.
Pricing and markets
The minister said prices are determined by what is happening on the global market and as such farmers were advised to be cognizant of market trends.
The release said he also told them that prices for commodities have dropped; citing a Dominican company which indicated that orders for copra were lessening.
Persaud also told farmers that his ministry was introducing business systems and marketing in hinterland communities that would assist them in tracking global trends.
He also reminded them that they could approach the new Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) for assistance in linking them to markets. Government is also considering creating a marketing centre at Charity since a significant amount of crops are exported from that area he said.
GINA said too the minister advised farmers that a fog machine and acoushi ant bait would be provided to help them get rid of the pests which destroy crops at Wakapao. He indicated as well that discussions based on finding a solution to this problem, are being held with the Brazilians. In the meantime farmers would be trained to operate the fog machine.
As regard extension services in the community, Persaud advised the community to nominate a candidate. The candidate would then be granted a scholarship at the Guyana School of Agriculture to undergo the said training.
The minister said too agricultural training in the community would begin within the month and that a farmers’ manual would be made available for them to consult prior to planting their crops. He then advised them to practice soil rotation techniques; noting that soil testing would be carried out at the village and at Akawini.
Meanwhile, Friendship farmers were also told that their community would benefit from a public awareness campaign.
According to GINA, farmers were also advised to consider shade house technology to counteract effects of climate change. Persaud said about $130M was spent on equipment in the Pomeroon area, including two excavators procured through an Italian soft loan, to conduct drainage works.
He said too the management of the excavator committee would be changed from a role of central management to monitoring and that it would look at providing support to a larger group rather than to individuals. Persaud said a community enhancement project in the area would start in June.
Regarding siltation at the mouth of the Pomeroon River, the minister said that consideration was being given to employing the use of a cutter dredge.