Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder last week spearheaded an outreach to Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and promised to assist farmers with the range of issues they raised.
According to a release yesterday from the Ministry of Agriculture, Holder was accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Delma Nedd and other senior government officials. They covered the villages of Kamana, Kurukubaru, Kanapang, Itabac, Kato, Tuseneng, Paramakatoi, Bamboo Creek, and Monkey Mountain from April 11 to 15. The villages of Rukumutu, Karasabai, Tiperu and Yurong Paru in Region 9 were also visited, the release said.
At Kamana, the team was greeted by Toshao Jeffrey Edwards and councillors and issues addressed included Cassava Rot due to flooding that the region experienced a few months ago. A request for a cassava machine was discussed.
The release said that Holder, in giving remarks, spoke of the Ministry’s Agricultural Development Plan for the Region which will be rolled out shortly and will encompass recommendations made by the villages. Crop suitability, it was noted in the release, is a major issue if the region is to effectively tap into its potential.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is committed to addressing whatever shortfalls you may have by giving the necessary technical support so that you can tap into your true potential as a village….the development plan which will be implemented seeks to ensure that you expand not only your traditional commodities, but looking into non-traditional,” the Minister said.
Subsistence farming was also addressed as the Agriculture Minister spoke of the potential of the region in becoming a major exporter to the coast and beyond. The release reported him as saying that while cattle rearing and cassava production are the main income generating activities of the region at the moment, the developmental plan will cater for additional crops and livestock.
The Guyana Livestock Development Authority’s Black Giant Poultry programme will now be extended to Region Eight, the release added.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Dr. Dwight Waldron spoke of the potential the programme which has seen birds gaining 8-9 pounds over a 3-6 months period and production of over 230 eggs annually. The birds, according to Dr. Waldron, don’t require the purchase of imported feed, as they consume kitchen waste and grass.
“This will ensure that you do not spend additional money and will generate financing for your village as the meat can be sold to the school as part of its School Feeding Programme”, Nedd said.
Similar issues were raised at Kurukubaru with residents requesting assistance with aquaculture production. According to Village Councillor, Grandville Lewis, the village is looking into fish rearing and as such requested technical support from the Fisheries Department. The aim is to not only sell the fish to the village but with the addition of other critical services to supply other villages.
Acoushi ants programme
The release said that the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has been running a successful programme in the region which has seen the reduction of the prevalence of Acoushi Ants on farms.
According to the residents, while this has been of great help, they are now affected by white flies and caterpillars.
Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Dr. Oudho Homenauth, who handed over Acoushi Ant bait and chemicals to treat the white flies and caterpillars spoke of the upcoming projects of the Institute which will be rolled out during the Ministry’s Agricultural Development Plan.
“This will see our extension officers working with you to incorporate new crops, and to ensure that pest and diseases do not adversely affect your production…Our team is here to work with you on a day-to-day basis and I urge you to ensure that you are actively involved in ensuring that it is done and in a timely manner,” he said, according to the release.
The team in a convoy of five vehicles from various agencies in the Ministry crossed rivers, drove through thick forests, mountains, uphill, downhill and on rugged terrain made its way to Kanapang, Itabac, Kato and then Tuseneng to meet with residents there, the release said. At the village, huge yams, cassava and bananas produced by the village were on display.
However, the availability of markets was one of the greatest concerns of residents. Guyana Marketing Corporation’s (GMC), Crop Extension Officer assigned to the Hinterland, Jo-Lee Walton told the residents of efforts made by the GMC through the facilitation of produce to markets.
She added that while the GMC prefers not to purchase produce from individual buyers, they can offer this facility once the farmers formed themselves into groups/clusters.