Officials enthusiastic over cassava project prospects By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
August 4, 2002

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`Implementation of the project will be a major step forward in sustaining the national agricultural thrust' -.Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh

A BRAZILIAN team has completed a two-week training programme in identifying varieties of cassava, laboratory analysis and processing and marketing of the crop here for technical officers attached to the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock.

At a news conference hosted by the ministry Friday, Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh hailed the project as "one of profound happiness, impacting on the life of the indigenous and rural communities."

He said teaching these communities how to add value to their products will contribute significantly to the reduction of poverty in those areas.

Alluding to the expertise of Brazil in the use of scientific and technological methods in agriculture, the minister said it has "a reservoir of technical knowledge in the field of agro-processing."

Sawh observed that the project represents a good example of South-South cooperation between neighbours, adding that the implementation of the project will be a major step forward in sustaining the national agricultural thrust.

He said the project represents the crossing of the "first threshold."

He also pointed out that the project aims to transfer technical knowledge '"to those who need it most -the farmers."

The scheme is one among three agreed to between the governments of Guyana and Brazil under their technical assistance and cooperation bilateral agreement.

Head of the Brazilian team, Professor Marvey Cereda said that during the past two weeks training was carried out in the identification of suitable varieties of cassava, laboratory analysis to determine moisture and cyanide content and processing and marketing.

As a follow-up to the training, five Guyanese will travel Brazil to observe and acquaint themselves with the methods of processing and marketing cassava there, with the objective of transferring the knowledge and techniques to local farmers, especially those in the rural and indigenous communities.

In December, another course will be held to conduct training in cassava variety collection.

Hinterland coordinator at the ministry, Mr. John Woolford said the training course was very beneficial and allowed the Guyanese technical officers to be exposed to hitherto unknown techniques and skills in the efficient processing, marketing and packaging of cassava products.

He said notable examples were the processing and use of cassava leaves and stems.

According to Woolford, scientific applications to the processing of cassava can become a great impetus for the development of the cottage industry, because the investment costs are small.

Asked about the potential international market for cassava products, Researcher Dr. Olivier Vilpoux said cassava chips are one of the products already popular in other South American countries.

He added that cassava starch products have great potential, pointing out that Thailand is a huge exporter, and noting the demand in the European market.

He also pointed out that apart from increasing exports, cassava products can reduce dependency on imports and identified sago as one such product.

Brazilian Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Ney Prado Dieguez described the project as a "good start" in technical cooperation and noted the enthusiasm of the Guyanese side in ensuring it became a reality.

The Ambassador also observed that such projects could help the process of integration between the two countries, especially the Amerindians who have a nomadic way of life.

The project is being funded by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and the Brazilian Government and the training programme represented the first phase of the schme.

The three-member technical team comprised Professor Cereda, and Researchers Dr. Vilpoux and Dr. Isabela Pisa.