Toka village expanding its agri sector

The community of Toka, located in the North Rupununi, Region Nine, is refocusing its attention on agriculture, as part of its holistic community economic development plan.

The community, which has a population of about 300 Makushi people, is involved in small-scale farming of corn, peanuts, cattle, poultry and bees. 

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal MP interacting with a resident of Toka

Delano Davis, Toka Deputy Toshao, explained that apart from those crops, most of the households are involved in planting cassava to make cassava products including farine and cassava bread.

“So, what happens is that persons would normally make the farine and have it on sale and persons would purchase. In fact, before the COVID, one of our main markets was Brazil,” Davis told DPI.

He said the village is also pushing its honey bee project, where villagers rear and harvest honey to sell. However, he noted that it is seasonal and therefore, the village council is seeking ways in which it could develop the production of honey, which has a huge market.

Deputy Toshao Delano Davis

Toka is one of the main suppliers of meat including beef and poultry in the North Rupununi. Davis said a slaughter facility is earmarked for the village in the 2022 national budget. This will allow the village to produce meat on a larger scale.

“The abattoir at the moment is in Annai and so that is a distance to take the meat up there and then sell. So, hopefully they approve the slaughter pole and we get meat sold right from here, and it would be cheaper for the farmers to check their meat right here and then sell,” he noted.

Aquaculture is one of the new areas that the village will also be exploring. Through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), two ponds were dug in the village under the water harvesting project. The ponds will be utilised to rear fish.

Toka Village, Region Nine

“We are working with the ministry of agriculture and we are in contact with them concerning training for aquaculture…We are hoping to mind (rear) the fish to supply to the community because we realise there is a lot of consumption of fish from the rivers but the fish in the rivers are depleting so we intend to farm the fish and sell to community members.”

Additionally, under the Hinterland Sustainable Agriculture programme, the village has a Bakery project onstream, and is improving it cattle livestock and constructing a multipurpose building.

Even as the community is developing its agriculture produce, the village council is working simultaneously with the agriculture ministry to secure markets.

Davis explained that the intention is to develop a sustainable agriculture programme within the community, that will lead to sustainable community development through the creation of jobs, building capacity and creating linkages, locally and internationally.

Meanwhile, 64 farmers and households affected by the May/June floods received flood relief cash grants ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. That distribution exercise was led by Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, MP, during a recent outreach.