Integrated aquaculture/rice farming project progressing
July 12, 2004
GINA - In a move to diversify Guyana 's agriculture sector and acquire additional markets, Government has implemented several initiatives, including the Integrated Aquaculture-Rice farming project.
A technical cooperation project funded by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) titled 'Introduction of aquaculture and other integrated production management practices to rice farmers' has commenced. The project was approved for Guyana and Suriname at a total cost of US$392,000.
The first team of consultants involved in the project arrived last month and has commenced gathering data. The team is presently working with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to develop a training curriculum.
The team will leave Guyana in two weeks and return in November to commence training local farmers. They will be in Guyana for approximately 11 months.
In April 2004, the Government of Guyana was awarded the two-year project by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. The project will be implemented in the Corentyne Region, Guyana, and West Nickerie in Suriname, simultaneously. It will involve three crop seasons and two fish production cycles.
This project has as its objectives:
To build capacity of rice extension staff to carry out integrated pest management and aquaculture extension work;
To develop integrated pest management strategies appropriate to small farmers through participatory Farmer Field School training and action research; and
To integrate aquaculture into small rice-based farming systems to diversify production for increased income and improved nutrition
As part of this project, a group of FAO Technical Officers visited Guyana from April 25 to 29 last. Discussions were held with major stakeholders, including the Guyana Rice Producers Association, and the Guyana Rice Development Board, as well as with rice farmers and rice extension personnel.
In Guyana, approximately 140,000 hectares of arable land are under rice cultivation and the industry is the largest private sector activity. It employs over 100,000 people directly and indirectly. The rice industry produces approximately 320,000 metric tonnes per annum, of which 70 percent is exported to the Caribbean and Europe.
In 1992, only 200 acres of land were under aquaculture cultivation. Today, through, continued encouragement from Government, this has grown to 6000 acres. There are now several private aquaculture farms around the country.