What do you know about NARI?
A GINA feature by Pamela Evans
Guyana Chronicle
November 5, 2002

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THE National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is a semi- autonomous research institution, which was created in 1984 with the mission to plan, develop and implement research to produce technologies and systems that will maintain national self-sufficiency and export capacity.

The main objectives of NARI are, to manage and conserve the nation's soil and water resources for stable and productive agriculture; integrate scientific knowledge and agricultural production, processing and marketing into systems which optimise resource management and facilitate the transfer of the technology to users; maintain and increase productivity and quality in crop and animal production and achieve maximum use of agricultural products for domestic and export purposes.

NARI was formerly known as the Central Agricultural Station and it was located at Mon Repos. In 1955, the Government acquired the land and the following year work on the establishment of the station commenced. It was completed and formally opened in 1962. The station was built to provide offices, laboratory facilities and residential accommodations. The Guyana Rice Corporation and the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) were also stationed there.

The Central Agricultural Station was operated under the authority of the then Ministry of National Development and Agriculture and acted as its main research station until the establishment of NARI in 1984.

NARI was created to rectify the problems of inefficient and ineffective utilisation of scientific research personnel. It was further aimed at the development of each region in Guyana to increase productivity in agriculture, which would support crops and livestock and sustain those production efforts and agro based industries most appropriate to the ecological and economic attributes of the eco-zone.

The Institution also provided services, which allowed almost parallel growth of the farmer, individually or co-operatively, with the development of technologies for production and maximisation of returns to its production activities.

When the institution was established, research work was done in two of the five broad eco-zones -- the Coastal Plains and the Intermediate Savannahs, while providing technical support for the upland rain forests, the mountains and the Rupununi Savannahs.

In 1995, the Government of Guyana recognised the importance for the establishment of a research facility, equipped to conduct scientific research in the area of rice cultivation. During that year the Guyana Rice Development Board Act No. 16 was piloted in the National Assembly and given assent by Guyana's late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan. With the enactment of the Guyana Rice Development Act No. 16, rice research was transferred to the Burma.

Information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture website states that NARI is governed by the Agricultural Research Committee (ARC). ARC is a group of eminent local scientists and managers which interfaces with the Agricultural Research Advisory Council, (ARAC), which is a council of farmers that has been integrated into the research process.

A Director heads the Institute and he is accountable to both the Minister of Agriculture and to ARC for the management of the institute.

The Director is assisted by Heads of Units, who are responsible for the daily activities and administration of the respective field research units, along with an administrative manager who oversees the general administration of the institution.

The ARC consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and representatives from institutions.

The Minister of Agriculture appoints the Director of NARI. The Appointment Committee, a sub-committee within the ARC, is responsible for the appointment of Research Scientists and other senior administrative staff attached to NARI.

The institution works in collaboration with local and regional research agencies and is funded by Central Government. However, some projects are supported by international agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

The institution has nine sections, seven of which are research sections. NARI conducts research in agronomy, horticulture, post-harvesting, the intermediate savannahs, plant protection, livestock and soils and the environment.

NARI has established a number of plant nurseries across the country to provide seedlings, plants and other services to farmers. The most recent development is the establishment of two plant nurseries at St. Ignatius and Karasabai, Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/UpperTakutu). Farmers are being provided with a better variety of plants and seeds for planting. NARI also provides advice to farmers on disease and pest control.

The institution provides ducklings and small ruminants to farmers who are interested in different breeds to increase their flocks.

NARI is also actively involved in the promotion of organic agriculture. An organic agricultural demonstration farm was established at Mon Repos. Organic agriculture is agricultural production without the use of synthetic chemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics. The objective of organic agriculture is to produce nutritious food in an economically viable and environmentally beneficial way.

NARI along with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock with support from the British High Commission launched an organic cocoa production project in Region One (Barima/Waini) in June 2000.

The general objective of the project is to increase agricultural income and job opportunities for farmers in hinterland areas of Guyana, as well as develop an export market in cocoa for which Guyana has a comparative advantage.

NARI has published several booklets and flyers on various issues to help farmers.