The success of Devon Gilead in producing red grapes in tropical Guyana, has caught the attention of the country and its leaders including President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha.
On Saturday, Minister Mustapha visited the farmer and commended his work, and pledged government’s continued support.
So far, with government’s assistance, the East Bank Berbice farmer has received additional lands to cultivate grapes, kiwi, apples, dragon fruit and other crops.
“He now has a lease for about 20 years, so that he will expand this production here, this crop grapes, kiwi and apple and other crops. I think this is very, very good for us as a country because this is the first time we are seeing the success of this crop here in this amount,” Minister Mustapha said.
He added that the farmer’s success augurs well for Guyana, as the country is diversifying and consolidating its crops.
Some of the crops that have been initiated recently include soya, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, while a trial for wheat has begun.
“As a country, we are always on the go to look at new ways of doing things, and here today, I want to commend Mr. Gilead because he has used his experience, he has used his initiative and I will ask NAREI to work very closely with him to give him all the support that he needs and other farmers who want to come on board also, we will work together with them,” Minister Mustapha said.
The minister reiterated that government is committed to developing the agriculture and other sectosr to take away full dependence on the oil and gas sector.
He noted that Guyana has a very important role to play in the food security of the Caribbean and that very soon Guyana will host a Regional Agriculture Investment Forum and Exhibition.
Mr. Gilead will also share his experience with stakeholders at this activity.
“As a little boy growing up, I was always fascinated with apples and grapes. Normally, my neighbour …when they go overseas, around Christmas time they does bring one apple and about four grapes and they got to share it among five siblings. So I tell myself when I get big I want to go to America to plant apple and grapes, but as I was getting bigger I told myself, why apple and grapes can’t grow in Guyana here,” the farmer told DPI during an interview.
The now 42-year-old farmer then sourced the plants online and started his experiment, however it was after six years of trial and error that he was finally successful in getting the plant to literally bear fruit.
The farmer is cultivating four varieties of grapes.