To ensure that agricultural production is heightened, especially in remote communities, the Ministry of Agriculture will be embarking on a programme to include large scale production of environmentally adaptable crops.
The initiative which falls under the Agriculture Diversification Project will see crops such as onions, carrots, turmeric and irish potatoes being cultivated.
Thus far, five communities in Region Eight have been identified and analyses are being carried out by researchers from the National Agricultural and Extension Institute (NAREI), to check the feasibility of the soil type and field texture.
Communities to benefit include;- Kato, Kurukubaru, Tuseneng, Paramakatoi and its satellite village Bamboo Creek.
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud during a visit to Paramakatoi and Kurukubaru on Wednesday pointed out that the project when implemented will significantly enable communities to become self-sufficient.
He added that while communities were given demonstrations on the methods of land selection, preparation and planting of the new crops, brochures on the husbandry of turmeric, onion, potato, black pepper and carrot were distributed.
“The team successfully completed this phase of the programme with the expectation of communities conducting the crop husbandry in the pilot plots for the next six to eight weeks. A follow up team from NAREI will then return to facilitate transfer of plants to lager production areas,” he said.
The programme is a re-introduction of the crop since the Region has successfully cultivated commercial quantities of potatoes and onions during the 1970s. However, due to the constraint of transporting large volumes of produce to commercial outlets at competitive prices, production efforts were ceased.
But due to the administration integrating communities into the mainstream of development, efforts are moving apace for a trail from the region to Georgetown to be established hence, produce would be transported within three days.
The plots will be situated on generally flat land spaces in the vicinity of waterways that have no history of flooding. Thus far, demonstration plots have been established at Kato in the vicinity of the Chiung River, while at remaining areas plots were established at creeks.
Farmers were also given a practical demonstration of planting the crops with respect to row and seed spacing; techniques to reduce fine seed; and planting density using sand and selection of potato quarters.
In addition, black pepper seedlings were planted in Kato, Kurukubaru and Paramakatoi.
According to researchers, the Region presents a unique opportunity for diversification and notwithstanding the limitation of moisture availability and temperature; it possesses an advantage over all other regions.
The Ministry is also looking to incorporate spices as a new crop targeting mostly hinterland areas which have suitable soil types to grow turmeric (dye), ginger, black pepper and nutmeg.
According to the Agriculture Minister, such crops have a long shelf-life, and can endure transportation logistics and survive under harsh conditions.