NAREI pumps $602.8M into non-traditional crops cultivation
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Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, examines seedlings during a recent outreach
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, examines seedlings during a recent outreach

THE National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has expended some $602.8 million, at the end of June this year, to further diversify Guyana’s production base and ensure food security.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, remains optimistic that his ministry will continue to accelerate efforts to meet the dietary demands of all Guyanese.

He said following his appointment as minister, it was discovered that most of the programmes to rural and hinterland communities were halted by the previous government.

“This significantly affected agricultural development in this country. Since taking office in 2020, we have not only re-started these programmes, but we have also revamped them and introduced new ones to ensure that everyone benefits.”

Already, NAREI has provided technical assistance and knowledge-sharing to hundreds of farmers countrywide.

Some seedlings plants

The 2021 mid-year report shows that designs were given to farmers for the construction of 97 shade houses in all regions. Shade houses were constructed for demonstration purpose at Hosororo, (Region One), Paramakatoi, (Region Eight); three were constructed at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

With the continued push for fruit cultivation, the agency made available hundreds of low-cost seedlings at all NAREI nurseries with 54,915 plants sold for some $13.7 million. During the review period, it was discovered that technical support was provided to 16,284 farmers.

Over 1,357 farmers from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and 10 benefitted from training sessions in pest and disease management, climate smart agriculture, good agriculture practices and crop husbandry systems, among others.

Further, it was highlighted that of the targeted 1,000 acres of new coconut cultivation for the year, 766 acres were cultivated, bringing the national coconut acreage to 29,802 acres.

Minister Mustapha reiterated that government has given prominence to the coconut industry by allocating $70 million to the Hope Coconut Industry Limited to promote expansion, inter-cropping, utilisation of coconut by-products, and increase production and productivity.

According to the report, the construction of the coconut nurseries in Wakenaam, Leguan, Canal No. 2, Polder and No. 63 Village Corentyne are expected to be completed in the second half of this year.

It says, too, that “trials for intercropping in the coconut industry commenced on the coastal soil with bora and hot peppers and on the sandy soil with peanuts and red beans, with a view to expanding intercropping cultivation in the coconut fields”.

Accordingly, about 0.7 tonnes of fresh ginger roots were processed and dried at Hosororo and were sent to manufacturers to assess the quality. In March, 655 cuttings of black pepper were distributed to the farmers of Regions One and 10 for cultivation.

To date, there are 575 black pepper cuttings at Mon Repos and 3,654 at Hosororo. There are 45 nutmeg trees in Hosororo between five farmers, with an expected yield of 1,000 nutmeg per tree per crop. In the second half of 2021, about 222 nutmeg seedlings will be planted at the Hosororo demonstration field.

Minister Mustapha said that as time progresses there will be a drastic change in the provision of extension support services.

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