Canada funds Victoria greenhouse project for youth

Youths of Victoria, on the East Coast of Demerara are expected to benefit from a $1.7 million greenhouse project funded by the Canadian High Commission to empower them and foster job creation in the area.

Students of GRECO Training Centre and other youths in the area are among those expected to benefit from the GRECO Agricultural Enhancement Project, which is intended to provide them with skills that will make them employable.

Herbs galore: Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana David Devine (right) and his wife, Marian were delighted to have some of the fresh parsley and celery that were grown in the GRECO Agricultural Enhancement Greenhouse at Victoria. Also in this photo is Desmond Saul, Principal of GRECO, who was happy to assist in harvesting the herbs. Canada is funding the greenhouse as part of a youth project. (Anjuli Persaud photo)

The project, which was started in November, 2011, took about eight to nine weeks to complete, and Desmond Saul, principal of the school, yesterday emphasised the importance of students learning to cultivate crops in areas that are vulnerable to floods. “Every student that comes to the school should learn to farm,” he said at the project’s launch, which was attended by students and teachers of the training centre, representatives of the Canadian High Commission and Opposition Leader David Granger. “We are encouraging farmers’ groups in the community to come and see what we are doing here,” Saul added, noting that farmers would be given insight into to how they can prevent their farms from flooding.

The 32x90ft wooden greenhouse with plastic ceiling is powered by solar energy and currently accommodates about ten plant beds containing parsley, celery, pak choy, hot peppers and eggplants. The plants are grown in a soil mixture comprised of white sand and paddy shells.

Students of GRECO Training Centre listen attentively as their principal, Desmond Saul, (standing at right) gives the opening address. (Photo by Anjuli Persaud)

They are also sprayed with a pesticide solution made from the same hot peppers grown in the greenhouse.

Michael Spencer, a teacher of the school, noted that about 25 students, between the ages of 15 and 18, are expected to benefit from the initiative. He also stated that they are working towards diversifying the crops which are produced to include vegetables such as carrots and lettuce.

The produce of the greenhouse is sold to various markets and supermarkets and the money that is generated goes toward the development of the training centre.

Damian Morris, a student, stated that they work on the project three times per week for about two hours each day. He also stated that he has benefited by “learning how far to plant the seeds and the general experience of working on the project.” Another student, Shenisa Tappin, noted that some of her tasks include the pulling weeds, watering the plants and planting. She stated that “if we continue planting I can benefit, because I am learning to farm”. Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner David Devine stated that it was a time to celebrate the partnership between his government and the training centre, since the project has been fruitful.

“We try to look at projects that are practical and effective for communities’,’ he said, noting that
the GRECO project was of this nature and that they are looking for other projects of similar substance.

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