Stakeholders heeding call to use shade houses

Organisers of a national shade house vegetable production project, in collaboration with Partners of the Americas Sustainable Livelihood and Community Economic Growth concluded a two-day awareness session for shade house producers, today.

The project was launched in 2013, and will conclude in February of 2017.

he US$1.35M project that was launched in 2013, and will conclude in February 2017, by the Inter- American Development Bank/Japanese Trust Fund, is being implemented by Partners of the Americas (POA Guyana Chapter) and Caribbean Self Reliance International (CASRI).

The project is being held in all the administrative regions with the exception of Region Eight. It will last for four years, and is aimed at improving the economic welfare of vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens, and increasing community economic growth.

Finance Officer, Terrence McKenzie said that the event was aimed at bringing awareness to shade house producers and other agricultural stakeholders. McKenzie also noted that certificates were handed out to the producers who would have done exceptionally well for the designated period.

“We bring them together to have a discussion with them to improve the cluster, and then from the cluster they will move to the national association, and when the project is finished next year, we want the clusters to continue doing the same work. It’s not like this project is going to die, we want the beneficiaries to continue with the idea,” McKenzie said.

The Finance Officer explained to the Government Information Agency (GINA), that phase one of the project has already been completed, and because of the tremendous success, this second phase was implemented.

“Now, phase two goes a little bit further.  In the first phase it was just hydroponics and in the second phase they added natural and organic farming. It got a bit wider, 10 times more funding than Phase One,” McKenzie said.

When asked why such a project was undertaken, Project McKenzie said that the idea is targeting sustainable livelihood, whether it be farming of vegetables or fruits for personal use or to be sold.

“Shade rooms are usually off the ground and are in trays so in the event that there is flooding, the produce that you would have farmed will be safe for consumption. We even had some persons visiting Trinidad and Tobago to see their level of shade rooms so that it can help us with our initiatives,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie told GINA that he hopes that this project will get the attention of senior officials. “If we had some more financing we could have gone for another two years. Persons seeing a need for it, there are a lot of areas that need this type of training, we would have trained nearly 4000 persons and there are a lot more persons that need to be trained in hydroponics, because if you walk around you will see that persons have a lot of yard space at their premises that can be developed and turned into shade rooms, which will help them save money on produce,” McKenzie said.

Arsnel Charles who is a shade house producer of kale (leafy vegetable) from Region Three, said that he was very happy for such an initiative, and noted that more persons need to be involved in it.

Charles told GINA that kale has a lot of health benefits and not a lot of persons in Guyana are aware of it. He hopes that more persons will begin to use the product.

Some of the organic produce that were on display at the event included, pak choy, tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plants, sorrel, lettuce, mint and parsley.