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GUYANA | IICA, NAREI working to promote climate-smart agriculture

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec. 7, 2020 - The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) have collaborated with the Basic Needs Trust Fund to build more than 500 shade houses countrywide, to help farmers embrace climate-smart agriculture.

Speaking with DPI, Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr. Oudho Homenauth said the initiative helps move agriculture forward, despite the challenges of climate change.

“We didn’t go just like that and start building a structure. They had to undergo a number of training activities so they can become sensitised in terms of what this thing is all about,” Dr. Homenauth said.

The benefits of the shade house farming include pest and disease control with very little manual labour needed, once the system has been established. Additionally, all costs can be recouped within the first year of operation, Dr. Homenauth said.

The Government, through NAREI, will also be supporting farmers who want to start shade house cultivation. 

NAREI, he explained, will “acquire shade materials and sell it back to the farmers at the same price because they will tell you that there is an initial cost in all of these things, but that can be recouped.”

NAREI has also produced a manual to teach farmers the process of establishing a shade house.

It is “very simple,” Dr. Homenauth said, and “highlights what shaded cultivation is all about; what are the practices you can utilise, some of the benefits and also the cost. Of course, the cost would vary depending on the size and what are the yields you could get.”

He added that “sensitisation like we are doing now, will help to send that message out there that this is the method of farming we are talking about – new methods of farming, from which the communities will benefit tremendously.”

Meanwhile, IICA Country Representative, Mr. Wilmot Garnett, said the idea behind climate-smart agriculture is that the environment could be controlled.  

“We have a lot of mouths to feed and this is one way we can adapt to the climate change issues.  With the climate-smart agriculture though, you can manage and you always get a better quality,” he said.

IICA also employs a hands-on approach with students, taking them into the fields to see theory in practice.

“Whenever we do some of the field trials and field training, we would take them so that they get first-hand [experience] because at the end of the day, the extension is very important because we could do the research, but we need to ensure we can transfer that technology to the farmers,” Mr. Garnett explained.

The IICA representative also highlighted the importance of teaching young people agriculture to ensure both future food security and profit.

“Agriculture is not just about the cutlass anymore; you hear about precision agriculture; you hear about climate smart agriculture. There is a lot of science and a lot of technology involved now and agriculture is a business and there are people who make a very decent living from agriculture,” Mr. Garnett said.  

The shade house is another step the Government is taking to introduce innovative technology to agriculture to widen the sector. 

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  • Countries: Guyana
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