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…as RAD finds innovative ways to grow food all year round
By Vanessa Braithwaite
The Upper Demerara – Berbice (Region Ten) Regional Agriculture Department (RAD) is on a mission to revolutionize traditional farming techniques thereby allowing farmers to produce crops throughout the year despite the challenges posed by harsh weather conditions.
RAD through climate-smart agriculture, intends to guide its farmers to transform agricultural systems to ensure food security all year round in an ever-changing climate.
Already, farms located in West Watooka, which is deemed the breadbasket of the mining town, have been inundated because of heavy and continuous rainfall during the course of last week.
Over the years, damages caused by flooding, regress all efforts made during the dry season to push Region Ten up the ladder towards food security and self-sustainability. Though there has been an increase in agricultural production across the Region over the last two years, Region Ten remains highly dependent on produce imported from other agricultural regions including Regions Five and Six.
However, whenever there is a national crisis, Region 10 suffers as produce from other Regions are either unable to be transported there or the cost for the produce skyrockets as occurred during the 2005 floods.
To combat the challenges faced by changing weather patterns and high dependency on other regions for agricultural produce, Regional Agricultural Officer, Derick Collins, is pushing farmers to inculcate climate-smart techniques into their farming.
Collins is targeting container agriculture, which includes vertical agriculture. Vertical agriculture is a revolutionary and more sustainable method of agriculture than its counterpart as it lowers the requirement of water to up to 70 per cent and also saves considerable space and soil.
This innovation in the field of agriculture is making heads turn today with its eco-friendly methods and making the possibility of farming real in difficult environs.
Collins told Village Voice Guyana that the agricultural technique utilizes any container to plant crops that grow well in a controlled environment. These include leafy vegetables, onions, ginger and other cash crops.
Storing these vertically can enable the farmer to save space, especially during an unfriendly climatic period.
“This technique is very good to utilize during this pandemic period also for persons who are limited in space. It gives an alternative for persons to produce their own food,” he told Village Voice Guyana while noting that RAD launched its climate-smart initiative at the various public buildings in Region Ten.
These include the Regional Democratic Council, the Linden Mayor and Town Council, the Linden Hospital Complex and the Mackenzie Post Office. The aim is to spark the public’s interest in this innovative type of agriculture.
“The response has been overwhelming. It caught many by surprise… some people realise that every little container in your yard you can use to plant and a lot of persons tapped into this method since the pandemic started,” Collins related.
His next mission is to initiate the technique and even regular gardening at all Health Centres across Region 10. The aim is to have available at the health centres, those crops which are highly recommended for use by doctors to reduce symptoms associated with hypertension and diabetes to name a few.
“We want to establish garden sites at the various health centres, so over a period of time, visitors to these health centres, especially the prenatal mothers can get the nutritional foods. So, when it is harvest time, the produce can be given back to the community,” Collins said.
Meanwhile, Collins disclosed that the Agricultural Department in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research and Extension institute (NAREI), will soon launch a livestock-rearing drive, to encourage residents to take up small-scale rearing in their backyards. This initiative also aims pushing Region 10 to self-sustainability.