FARMERS of the Hope Estate are becoming less dependent on traditional cash crops and have turned to the cultivation of onions with the help of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) through its PROPEL initiative.
In an effort to foster crop diversification in the farming community, PROPEL has approached 10 females and two male famers to plant the crop collectively on a plot of land identified by the Hope Coconut Industries Limited.
“Farmers have been facing many constraints with marketing traditional vegetables… so we want to promote crop diversification and see how well onion adapts to the conditions,” said PROPEL’s Agriculture Extension Facilitator Jason Persaud in an invited comment.
He said a team from WUSC has already done preliminary soil-testing, but the actual cultivation of the first set of onions will commence in two weeks.
“Right now, the farmers are doing land preparation and we have even created a planter box at the coconut industries; training was already done too,” said Persaud.
The farmers will work together to ensure that the crop is sustained and well cultivated. Persaud said the weather is conducive to the cultivation of onions.
Onions will be harvested in three months if they use young onions and it could take up to four months if they use seedlings.
A Corentyne farmer had harvested some 450 pounds of organic onions from his Phillipe Farm, East Berbice.
It was the largest harvest for a single farmer since implementation of the trial project by Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce and Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL), in partnership with the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).
Kewal Mangar, the NAREI extension officer attached to the project, had said in addition to Medford there are at least three other farmers who were part of the PROPEL project, who have gone on to become independent onion farmers.
He said the Mercedes variety of onions has been more successful thus far and that NAREI is working closely with farmers both in and out of the field, providing technical advice in addition to identifying potential markets for their produce.