Broccoli and cauliflower have long outgrown the expression ‘exotic crops’ in the Guyana context. They have been re-christened ‘high-value crops,’ in recognition of the prices they fetch on both the local and external markets. Recent successful crop trials have facilitated the dissemination of knowledge that have enabled local farmers to gain higher returns on their investments in the two crops.
Information provided by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) shows that for the first quarter of 2018, a total of 16.6 metric tons of cauliflower were produced. NAREI Chief Executive Officer Dr. Oudho Homenauth considers this a noteworthy achievement for the local farming community, pointing out that the development coincides with an increase in local demand for the vegetables. NAREI had begun trials some time ago to ascertain whether the crop could grow locally as well as the production costs associated with cultivation.
Homenauth reported that NAREI’s in-house trials and partnerships with farmers “proved that this 90-day crop could grow successfully in Guyana under shaded conditions…Some of our more recent projects being done on demonstration plots are in open fields…the idea is to increase local production to minimize importation.”
All of this is taking place whilst local supermarkets are importing cauliflower to meet growing consumer demand, the prevailing market price ranging from $500 per head to as much as $3,500……….depending on the size of the vegetable and whether or not they are being offered frozen or fresh.
Recently, several farmers in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten participated in production trials during which the crop was planted in open fields in order to ascertain whether it could thrive in the Guyana environment. The various trials were successful.
Two months ago, Deodat Seodatt, a farmer operating in Parika Backdam harvested 108 head of cauliflower.
“When NAREI approached me to plant the crop I agreed right away because I have knowledge about the crop…On a small section of my land I planted 300 roots of cauliflower and of that only 108 grow…that was because I deliberately did not follow the exact guidance offered by the Extension Officer,” the farmer noted. He added, “I didn’t have any trouble selling my produce…I know this is an expensive crop but I wanted to sell my crop reasonable…So I sold a head of cauliflower for $300…I sold a good set to a Chinese restaurant and the remainder I took to Parika Market…Some wholesalers wanted to buy over my produce but I said no…I stand up right at the Market and sell out the cauliflower…All now people asking me if I have more.”
Given the growth of consumer interest Seodatt has decided to dedicate a large portion of land to increase cauliflower production. He plans to continue selling the produce for $300- a price which allows him to make a profit.
Another farmer to benefit from the trial is Chandrika Rampal of Enterprise, Grass-field. Working in collaboration with NAREI Rampal recently harvested a cauliflower crop.
“I accepted the chance to plant the crop because I wanted something different…you know boulanger, bora and pumpkin are common crops on the market and the prices are low but having these new crops the price is high so it makes sense to grow them,” he stated.