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FAO makes donation to strengthen small-scale farmers’ production efforts 

…works on Karlico Inc hydroponics project ongoing

Works ongoing by Karlico Inc on the hydroponics project

Small-scale farmers across the country are set to enhance their operations as the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Thursday donated a number of inputs to Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha.
A total of 500 plastic crates for post-harvest transport of fruits and vegetables along with 300 electric knapsack sprayers, 20 tillers, and spare parts were handed over by FAO Country Representative in Guyana, Dr Gillian Smith.

Some of the Agriculture Innovative and Entrepreneurial Project (AIEP) youths

The simple ceremony took place at the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI)’s office in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara (ECD).
“With our conversation with NAREI and our other partners, we came up with the idea that these are inputs that can support especially small farmers who need a little bit of extra support, considering a lot of the changes in global food prices and global crises that affect every single country,” Smith explained.

Mustapha noted that while the budgetary allocation to the sector has increased by about 150 per cent over the last three years, international partnerships as such are still essential in aiding production, especially for small-scale farmers.
“We are trying to help the small-scale farmers to modernise their plots [and] what they are doing. We cannot continue to do things in the same old way,” Mustapha said.
He explained intentions to increase the income and standard of living for these farmers by developing their operations to make them more accessible to investors so that large-scale production can become a reality for them.

Some of the items donated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The Agriculture Minister further noted that the recently concluded National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference saw about 240 Indigenous villages represented, many of which can particularly benefit from these inputs.
“When we give them these items, they will help to develop their village [and] their community,” Mustapha said.
“We have been building a number of agro-processing facilities in these communities [as] we are trying to bring them on par with the farmers on the coastline so that the same kinds of opportunities that exist on the coastline would exist in the interior locations,” Mustapha said.

AIEP, Karlico Inc

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Mustapha also visited the Agriculture Innovative and Entrepreneurial Project (AIEP) as well as ongoing works being executed by Israeli company, Karlico Inc.
The brainchild of President Dr Irfaan Ali, AIEP was created to encourage youth involvement and entrepreneurship in agriculture.
During this visit, Mustapha met with students from Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) and the University of Guyana (UG) who are participating in internship programmes and practical activities as part of their academic pursuits in agriculture.
Meanwhile, he noted the work progressing on the US$15.7 million hydroponic production system project being undertaken by Karlico Inc, an initiative that emerged from the company’s visit last year to the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo.
The project will involve a three-phase hydroponic production system based on nutrient film techniques and soilless production systems and is designed for the production of fresh herbs, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables as well as other high-value crops.
The first phase of the project will see the company setting up a 2000-square-metre state-of-the-art hydroponic system which will include a cold room, packaging facility, harvesting equipment, irrigation controllers, fertiliser mixers, water recycling system, and emergency water storage among other things. (G13)