– ‘slash and burn’ farmers to benefit from soil tests, technical support
– Agri. ministry to train, hire three additional extension staff
Farmers from the riverine community of Manawarin in Region One (Barima – Waini) will soon benefit from a number of critical interventions as the government moves towards improving and developing agriculture in hinterland communities.
Owen Williams, a farmer from Mud Creek, said that many farmers in the area needed help with transporting their produce. He explained that farmers still practice the slash and burn technique because the soil becomes less fertile after every crop cycle.
“One of the difficulties we are facing in our area is to get our produce out from the back dams. Our land is not like the coast land that we can use over and over. We have to cut and keep going every season,” the farmer said.
Henry Vickery, another farmer from the village, said that farmers needed more technical advice. He also told the minister that farmers also needed more access to markets for their perishable commodities.
“We want more assistance with training so that we can learn more about agriculture, about rearing cattle and birds (poultry) and other things. We have the capacity. We also have to look at marketing. I cannot go to Georgetown to sell 500 pounds of plantain. That cannot pay me. By the time I reach halfway, it will be ripe. We need a ready market and we are looking at our government to do that. So, when we’re ready to harvest we must have that ready market,” the farmer noted.
Nadira George, a teacher and a village councilor told the minister that the school’s agricultural science department needed assistance to boost the practical aspect of the curriculum.
“This is the third year we are offering Agriculture Science at CXC but we are lacking many things. I am asking if more resources can be made available for the school in terms of tools, textbooks, training, and maybe if some materials can be given to us so that we can do the shadehouse farming,” she noted.
Farmers also requested assistance with the construction of an agro-processing facility, farming tools, and other agricultural inputs such as planting materials and Acoushi Ants bait.
While responding to the farmers’ concerns, Minister Mustapha said that agriculture is advancing and that farmers in the villages needed to change the way they were doing agriculture.
“Many farmers here are still practicing ‘slash and burn’. If we are going to move agriculture forward, we have to move away from that nomadic technique. A team of specialists consisting of soil scientists will come back to meet with you so that you can have those lands to farm continuously. They will guide you on what you can add to the soil so that you don’t have to keep moving to different lands when you are ready to plant again. They will also teach you about crop rotation. That will happen in another two weeks or so,” the minister disclosed.
Minister Mustapha also told the farmers that additional extension staff will be trained and hired to service the sub-district.
“We will train and hire three additional extension staff for this area. So instead of two, you will have five. Once you can identify persons who can do the job, we will train them and hire them as extension staff,” he added.
The subject minister also committed to assisting the Manawari Secondary School’s agriculture department with a shadehouse, as well as tools and other technical support through the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).
Residents from the village were also told that some $4 million were available under the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Development (HESAD); an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) sponsored loan with approved funds totaling US $7.952 M.
Prior to the minister’s visit, villagers had indicated that they wanted a wharf to be constructed. Minister Mustapha advised villagers to meet and discuss the project and said if everyone agreed then those funds could be used to construct the wharf.
In addition to that, the minister said that an additional $2 million will be made available to assist with the construction of an agro-processing facility for the village, as well as a set of farming tools that will be used by villagers to improve their agricultural practices.
A team from the ministry comprising officers from the NAREI, Guyana Livestock Development Authority, and the New Guyana Marketing Corporation is expected to return to the villages in two weeks to meet with the farmers. Farmers present also received a variety of vegetable seeds and Acoushi Ants baits.