With the support of Canada, a research trial on several varieties of Irish potatoes to determine their suitability for local conditions is underway, a release from the Canadian High Commission said yesterday.
Thirteen ¼ acre Irish potatoes pilot plots are currently being supported through the $20 million Canada-funded Caribbean Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) project.
The release said that the trial began about a year ago when an initial assessment of the suitability of the Guyanese conditions for the cultivation of Irish potatoes was conducted through the PROPEL project.
Guyana imports a large amount of these potatoes annually.
On Tuesday, the release said that High Commissioner of Canada, Pierre Giroux visited one of the pilot plots in Laluni, Soesdyke, Region 4. He highlighted the work as an important part of Canada’s contribution to agricultural diversification in Guyana.
Through the project, which is being implemented by the World University Science of Canada, Ottawa is providing seeds and technical support to farmers to help create the best conditions for the cultivation of Irish potatoes.
A key component of the sustainability of this initiative is the training and capacity building of National Agricultural and Research Extension Institute officers who will in turn be able to provide support to farmers desirous of planting Irish potatoes.
A similar initiative under the Canada-funded project in Jamaica resulted in locally grown potatoes satisfying approximately 80% of the Jamaican demand. All indications are that similar or even better results can be expected in Guyana, the release said.
“Already at the 4 week stage of the trial, yields are comparable to international standards”, the release added.
The project has already sewn up a local market for the first crop of Irish potatoes and is also working to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the trial.