Trials to ascertain which areas in Guyana are conducive for the production of Quinoa are likely to commence this September. The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Felix Quinoa Farming Industry (FQFI), and the Food and Agriculture Organization are collaborating to make this a reality.
On Wednesday (today), Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Deputy CEO of NAREI Brian Sears and NAREI’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Latecia Frank met with a team from FQFI headed by the company’s CEO and President Joan Perry. The discussions which included the importation of seed materials, possible trial sites, and technical training and support were held in Dr. Homenauth’s Mon Repos Office.
In July 2015, FQFi, a US-based Incorporation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture outlining areas of partnership for the introduction and production of Quinoa- a grain- to Guyana’s other crops sector. FQFI was formed in response to a called made by the United Nations to introduce Quinoa, a sustainable food, in developing countries by 2020 in light of the negative effects of climate change on agriculture.
According to Dr. Homenauth, NAREI and by extension the Government of Guyana is committed to the introduction of Quinoa to Guyana. He recalled that Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder had announced that Guyana will be introducing this new crop during his National Budget 2017 speech in the National Assembly. Furthermore, NAREI is in constant communication with the FAO Country Representative regarding this topic.
Dr. Homenauth highlighted several areas in which NAREI could assist FQFI. They include assisting FQFI to speedily access seed materials; earmarking Ebini, Kairuni, Mon Repos and Canje (New Forrest Area) as possible trial sites; soil testing and data collection; and monitoring of trial sites and providing technical support.
According to Perry, FQFI has partnered with experts on Quinoa at the University of Maryland and Brigham Young University in the United States and Chile FAO. Whilst their overseas counterparts have been providing guidance and support, locally FQFI has begun land preparation for the trial plots in Canje. She said that FQFI owns 350 acres of land in the Canje area and the aim is to access an additional 2,000 acres through lease from Government.
Speaking on the MOU, Perry related that FQFI is seeking to have Quinoa grown on a large scale in Guyana with the involvement of other farmers. She said that FQFI already has a list comprising over 150 persons who are willing to cultivate their lands with Quinoa. However, special emphasis will be placed on female farmers for gender equality and women empowerment purposes.
Perry expressed gratitude to NAREI for the assistance offered to bring Quinoa to Guyana. She is confident that Quinoa could be the next leading other crop in the country. Perry related that Quinoa is a resilient crop that could be consumed in a variety of ways. There is a high demand for the crop internationally.