Agriculture Ministry pushes for cultivation of imported crops

Agriculture Ministry pushes for cultivation of imported crops

The Ministry of Agriculture has commenced testing the production of several imported beans and vegetables, in a move to displace some of the food imported into the country, and reduce the food import bill. In 2013, emphasis was placed on the reduction of imports of corn, soybean, black eye, and certain vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and sweet peppers, as well as spices.

Twenty-two (22) varieties of hybrid corn, obtained from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre-CIMYT, were evaluated on savannah soil at Ebini and since then, five of the best varieties have been selected for commercial planting. Additionally, black eye and hybrid corn were sourced from Belize, whilst soybean was sourced from Brazil. These are currently being produced at Mon Repos and Essequibo with the acquisition of equipment for planting, harvesting and threshing in progress. Based on the results of these evaluations, it is proposed that cultivation will be expanded on farmers’ fields.

The strategy is that corn and soybean would be used to formulate livestock feed and in this regard a plan of action for these two commodities is currently being finalised.

The displacing some of the food imports are among strategies being employed to strengthen food and nutrition security. There is also focus on increased agricultural mechanisation of certain crops including spices and cassava. To this end, in 2013, equipment was sourced from India for processing spices, and these will be located at Hosororo in Region 1. The entire facility at Hosororo is being refurbished and the acquisition of processing equipment aims to add further impetus to the spice industry, especially in the region.

With regards to cassava, work continues with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide training and technical support in the establishment of agricultural enterprises in Hinterland Communities. Under the first wave of the project, cassava plots have been established at several places including Parikwarnau, Massara, and Rupertee.

Works were also initiated with the communities of Tapacuma in Region Two and Wowetta in Region Nine to improve on the production practices for cassava with demonstration plots being established in these communities. (GINA)

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