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As part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to boost agricultural and development capacity in keeping with trends of the 21st century, two students of the Arkansas Unity, Student Abroad Exchange Program today paid a courtesy call on Agriculture Minister Noel Holder at his Regent and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office.

Minister Holder with the team from the University of Arkansas

Minister Holder with the team from the University of Arkansas

The students who will be in Guyana for one month, will be visiting the National Agricultural Research and Extension (NAREI), Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), University of Guyana, the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) and a number of other agricultural sites and regions across the country with the hope of grasping as much knowledge as they can on the different techniques used in the agriculture sector in Guyana.

The focal point of the trip is for the team to learn about the local techniques involved in planting and propagating sweet potatoes as this crop is now gaining popularity in the Western States because of its nutritional properties. Sweet potatoes are a plant propagated crop so the exchange programme serves to equip the team knowledge on how to acquire a good quality seed stock which will in turn result in higher yields of the crop so that they can apply it in their cultivation practices.

During the meeting, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder expressed his gratification with the programme adding that Guyana is always open to not only receiving such opportunities but also giving exchange opportunities to individuals. “While the knowledge on the sweet potato cultivation is important, we must also understand that disease transfer tends to occur when propagation and seed transfer occurs. For example it is more advantageous to put a coconut nursery at various regions because to take coconut material from one region to another, the transfer of pests and diseases that are not common in that area can occur.” Minister Holder explained.

The ‘Clean Seed: Cleaning up the seed stock’ initiative was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and seeks to clean up the seed stock so that both large scale and small scale farmers of sweet potatoes can benefit from a higher yield.

The students that are benefiting from this trip are Ashlyn Carlton, who is pursuing a degree in Animal Science and Chelsea Robinson, who is pursuing a degree in Regulatory Science at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB).

Under the programme a number of Guyanese will also benefit from similar exchanges where they are given the opportunity to study in institutions outside Guyana. This will give them the ability to familiarize themselves with a number of technological advances in agriculture so that they can return and apply the knowledge they acquired.

The team comprises of the Ms. Iris Crosby the advisor for the Student Education Abroad Programme for UAPB, Mr. Kelvin Craig the Programme Manager for Guyana arm of the programme and the two exchange students from the University of Arkansas.

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