Region Nine has been earmarked to produce Irish Potatoes and Cassava on a large scale. The region is also expected to be prepped for the production of value added items from these crops.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Dr. Oudho Homenauth in a recent interview with Department of Public Information (DPI) said that this is a part of the hinterland diversification process that is being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture.
After a number of trials had been conducted on several varieties of Irish potatoes and cassava in the Rupununi, the research institute is working with farmers and other support agencies to ensure production in the savannahs, in the region, Dr. Homenauth disclosed.
“We did some initial work in looking at the cultivation of Irish potatoes in several areas in Region Nine. In some areas, it was not successful because of some of the climatic conditions… we have started with some communities using the savannah lands for cassava cultivation, it has to involve what we call mechanisation involving land preparation, proper land preparation and access to water.” The CEO explained.
Five different varieties of Irish potatoes had been cultivated on trial at Santa Fe Mega Farm, Region Nine through a partnership between NAREI and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC, Caribbean (Guyana) Incorporated), funded by the Government of Canada PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages) PROJECT.
Meanwhile, field trials with three different improved varieties of cassava from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Columbia, were conducted at NAREI’s Research Station, Mon Repos to determine the best planting period, growing cycle, root yield potential and pest and disease resistance.
Dr. Homenauth added that work is being done at the Ebini Research station before moving into large scale production of these two crops. The move for farming of these and other crops in the hinterland comes at a time when experts are recognising the impact of climate change and how it affects coastland farming.
Even as a more diversified and climate-resilient agricultural sector is expected in 2017, NAREI will continue research aimed at promoting agricultural expansion further inland by introducing mega farms in the hinterland regions.