NAREI records 182 sets of shadehouse materials sold so far for 2021

as gov’t continues to promote smart agriculture

With climate change continuing to pose a major risk to the global agriculture sector, the government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture as part of its 2020 emergency budget, had allocated funds for the procurement of shadehouse materials in an effort to promote smart agriculture in Guyana.

A total of $15.8 million was allocated to the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) to promote this initiative.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha examining the soil in one of the beds

While presenting the 2020 budget, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill disclosed that the government was working to provide some amount of relief to farmers whose income were reduced significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that $15,8 million would be allocated for the acquisition of shadehouse materials and sprinkler hoses. Those materials, he explained, would be sold to farmers at a cost price, saving farmers over 33 percent and that the monies from the initial investment would be utilized as a revolving fund for future purchases for required materials for farmers.

While giving an update on the response of the initiative, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said many farmers have since expressed their interest in purchasing the materials.

“The programme is going well. For the year, NAREI was able to sell 182 sets of shadehouse materials to farmers across the country. The ministry has also made some of those materials available to community farmers’ groups and vulnerable women farmers’ groups across the country. The response has been tremendous so far from farmers both on the coast and in interior locations. After seeing the devastating effects of this last rainy season, farmers are becoming more aware of the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector and with the support of the government, they’ve been making the necessary adjustments like with the establishment of shadehouses,” Minister Mustapha said.

A section of the shadehouse that is being constructed in Maruranau Village, region Nine

According to a United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean report, climate change is likely to have potentially negative impacts on the viability of agriculture, and thereby affect human health both directly and indirectly, through food unavailability and food insecurity, and ultimately the economic viability of many countries worldwide. The report also sighted the impacts that the 2005-2006 flood had on Guyana’s agriculture sector, with other crops such as fruits, vegetables, and tubers experiencing an estimated loss of US$ 7.8 million.

Taking into account the effects the more recent flood has had on all of Guyana’s productive sectors, the ministry continues to promote smart agriculture practices in farming communities across the country. With both coastal and hinterland agriculture severely affected, more farmers have begun constructing shadehouses to help combat the impacts of climate change on their crops.

Over the weekend, during a trip to Region Nine, Minister Mustapha visited a shadehouse set up by a group of teachers from the Maruranau Primary and Secondary School.

Lloyd Ritchie, the teacher in charge of spearheading the project, said that the project was being done under the guidance of the regional agriculture officers.

“The Kanuku Mountains Community Representative Group provided us with the plastic and the mesh to set up the shadehouse for the school. The ministry also promised us some seedlings and seeds. By the end of the month, the shadehouse will be ready and we will start putting in the seedlings and so. The agriculture coordinator has helped us with setting up the beds so when we get the seeds and seedlings we’ll be ready to go on to the next step,” Mr. Ritchie explained.

Minister Mustapha commended the teachers for their efforts and said that the ministry will continue to offer support to farmers and groups interested in setting up shadehouses across the country.

He also said that if farmers in the hinterland or outlying areas were desirous of purchasing the materials to set up shadehouses, they could liaise with their regional agriculture extension officer and that officer would facilitate getting the materials to them.