Shade house initiative continues to thrive with youth involvement

While agriculture is a major source of employment in Guyana, traditionally, older citizens take on the responsibility of farming whether it’s small or large-scale farming. However, as the country rapidly progresses, it is becoming important for the younger generation to venture into the agriculture sector.

The government over the past two years has invested billions into the sector, reviving and expanding, as well as establishing new initiatives to get more youths involved in agricultural cultivation.

Devon Critchlow tending to his crops.

One such project is the President’s shade house initiative which was launched in January, and is specifically targeting the younger population.

The project which falls under the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme (AEIP) caters for constructing 275 shade houses across the country.

DPI on Tuesday spoke with farmers involved in the shade house initiative at the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

The young farmers are growing a number of high-value crops such as cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

CEO of AIEP, Tisha Mangra-Singh.

CEO of AIEP, Tisha Mangra-Singh said with youth involvement in cultivation, the country will come closer to achieving food security and reducing the food import bill.

“Youths hold 30 percent or more of the population, so if we can get youths involved in agriculture then we are closer to achieve that goal not only so, but youths are more supportive of innovation and technology when it comes to agriculture, and they would be more comfortable in that sense to promote agriculture,” she noted.

Further, Mangra-Singh explained that a number of modern and innovative methods are being used in agriculture, such as drip irrigation, fertigation, shade cultivation and trellising. She noted that with these techniques, farming is made easier for the younger generation.

Also, crops grown in the shade houses are highly requested by restaurants, hotels and other businesses across the country. “There’s a wide variety that we need to tap into because they are requesting this from us because of the quality that we produce and supply them with,” Singh told DPI.

Meanwhile, third year agriculture student at the University of Guyana, Devon Critchlow said, “Agriculture is one of the most important economic productive sectors in Guyana, and it accounts for a significant amount of the gross domestic product, and being a part of this project, assisting in reducing the food import bill, it is a pleasure.”

He is encouraging other young persons to get involved in the agriculture sector, noting that it’s a “good” experience.

“Youth involvement is important because the older folks they will phase out and the youths will have to take over, so I will encourage youths to get involved, come onboard,” Critchlow urged.

Another, agriculture UG student, Lisa Douglas stated that working at the shade houses allows her to put her knowledge into practice.

Lisa Douglas speaking to DPI

“At UG you only learn about the theory, and when I come here is practical so you putting that theory into practice when you come here.”

She further explained that getting into agriculture will allow youths the opportunity to become entrepreneurs, earning their own income, as well as increasing production.