Agriculture outreaches help to identify challenges, find solutions

The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has said the outreaches conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture to about 30 farming communities have led to positive outcomes.

In a recent interview with DPI, NAREI Chief Executive Officer Dr. Oudho Homenauth said the exercise has been “extremely useful” as the face-to-face interactions with farmers have helped to identify priority areas to be addressed.

Principal among them, he said, are drainage and irrigation issues, although some other fundamental matters were remedied immediately.  

Chief Executive Officer of NAREI Dr. Oudho Homenauth

“We would have started the seed distribution, not on a very large scale, but at least to satisfy the home growers and the small farmers and this has been done in all communities and people have been very happy with that. In some cases, we would have given seedlings as well,” Dr. Homenauth said.

The reaction to the assistance showed that it is really needed, he said.

NAREI also provided assistance to combat pest and disease challenges in farming communities.

Seedlings at NAREI’s nursery

Dr Homenauth said a team was sent to Wakenaam, Region Three, after the outreach there, to help with pests such as the black sigatoka and coconut cockle, which are hampering crops there.

“They were able to set up with the farmers themselves, activities using chemicals and setting up various treatments, working along with the actual farmers to show how these things can be managed. It can’t be eradicated but it can be managed,” Dr. Homenauth explained.

While the measures imposed to curb COVID-19 have restricted travel to interior regions, the CEO said feedback provided by other Ministries from their outreaches there have allowed NAREI to identify needs in those communities.

NAREI has started producing ant bait and has acquired the chemical Fast Tack to deal with pests in those areas. Several communities have already been served.

“All of it is free of cost.  All of it is a service, the bait was free, the chemicals were free,” Dr. Homenauth said.

NAREI will also increase ant bait production to fulfil a request made by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.

However, Dr. Homenauth is urging communities to be more proactive. “You can’t wait until somebody goes to find out there is an issue and that’s a problem we have been having. We should have been aware of those problems before.”

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