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NAREI harvests English potatoes

Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and NAREI’s Researcher, Mr Fredricks during the entity’s first harvest of English potatoes

The Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement that NAREI in keeping with its plan to diversify the sector as part of its work programme embarked on the planting of a number of non-traditional produce to which demonstration plots were commenced by researchers from the Institute.

Among the non-traditional crops currently grown are garlic, carrot, turmeric, ginger, chic peas and English potatoes.

“This is a good day for us in Agriculture. Gone are the days when we import such produce when infact we have enough land space, experienced and qualified persons and the will-power to ensure that such things become a reality” said Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.

The demonstration plots of potatoes were harvested on Day 42 by Ramsammy and one of the lead researchers at the institute, David Fredricks.

The Agriculture Minister said NAREI would continue to work on such projects, all with the aim of ensuing the country’s import bill is significantly reduced.

“Such interventions by government is to ensure that we not only reduce our import bill but also increase our export Bill…I am proud of my dedicated staff at NAREI and encourage them to continue the good work the institute has already commence and this will go a far way” Dr. Ramsammy said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of NAREI, Dr. Oudho Homenauth reiterated his agencies commitment to ensuring that non-traditional varieties of crops which are adaptable to soil type and climatic conditions on the coast are introduced.

Such initiatives were embarked upon by farmers in Regions Seven and Eight. However, a number of factors including the high cost to transport the commodities brought an end to the venture.

While this has been a success for NAREI, such a venture didn’t come easily. According to Dr. Homenauth researchers encountered a number of difficulties in the initial phase such as soil type, and pest attack before reaching this stage.

“During extensive research we found that growing the potatoes under shaded cultivation instead of in the open has also helped in this regard….to date, we have mastered our soil type and managed pest attack to a significant level” the CEO said.

While NAREI has been progressing well with respect to research, Dr. Homenauth noted that much more can be done. He said the challenges presently remain access to state-of-art planting materials to make planting more feasible. This is currently being procured through assistance from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), he said.

The research aspect of the agency is being manned by 23 researchers. The aim of NAREI is to reduce imports by 50 percent within the next year. As such, the agency is open to working with farmers countrywide and to lend assistance through expertise sharing where necessary.

A decade ago crops such broccoli and cauliflower which were known to have special dietary factors attached to it, were imported and only made available in supermarkets. However, today such crops are grown locally in Guyana and made available easily to all categories.