Inland farming, next frontier for agriculture – NARIE CEO
─ measures already being implemented
DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, October 22, 2019
With the effects of adverse climate change becoming evident, Guyana’s primary agriculture belt, its coastland, is under threat.
In an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Chief Executive of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Dr. Oudho Homenauth said the agency is aware of this issue and is taking necessary steps to assist farmers who are shifting crop production inland.
Dr. Homenauth explained that along the Linden Highway, which runs from the coast into the hilly sand and clay areas, farmers are already being supported.
“We know the soil along the highway is kind of very sandy. They cannot use much fertilizer, so, we use something called bio-char, out of coconut shell. We are using coconut waste. You can have that material as a soil amendment. That amendment will ensure that the soil retains its moisture for a very long time. It holds on to nutrients for a longer time.”
The NAREI CEO also disclosed that work is ongoing in the intermediate savannahs. “Once all goes well, will be the next frontier, especially targeting corn, soybeans, some fruits and cassava, as well as cattle.”
He acknowledged that transportation, remains a challenge. “Going to Ebini now, is not so much of an issue. We have systems in place. Of course, we can use the Berbice River for transport but I see that as the next frontier for large scale agriculture. It has to be large scale mechanized agriculture. It cannot be small-scale because you have to practice good irrigation in those areas because we are currently working on rainfed agriculture.”
The forthcoming Linden to Lethem roadway, Dr. Homenauth opined, will help to drive inland agriculture. “With the Brazilians talking about using that road to help export their commodities and that will propel development there but along that corridor.”
With the establishment of mega-farms and cassava processing factories in the Rupununi, water harvesting systems in Toka and Nappi, rice production in Quarry and increased technical assistance from government agencies continue; the NARIE head explained that these interventions and more will boost food security and ensure local crop sustainability.
The Coalition Government has consistently stated its intention of ensuring that Guyana becomes food secure and its status of the Caribbean’s “Food Basket” be restored.