Aquaculture and rice project takes off
Stabroek News
July 13, 2004

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An integrated aquaculture-rice farming project which is being implemented is one of a number of initiatives by the government to diversify the agriculture sector and acquire additional markets, the Government Information Agency (GINA) says.

The technical cooperation project funded by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) titled 'Introduction of aquaculture and other integrated production management practices to rice farmers' was approved for Guyana and Suriname at a total cost of US$392,000, GINA stated.

Guyana was awarded the two-year project in April 2004. The project will be implemented simultaneously on the Corentyne and in West Nickerie, Suriname. It will involve three crop seasons and two fish production cycles.

According to the GINA release, the project is aimed at building the capacity of rice extension staff to carry out integrated pest management and aquaculture extension work, developing integrated pest management strategies appropriate to small farmers through participatory farmer field school training and action research, and integrating aquaculture into small rice-based farming systems to diversify production for increased income and improved nutrition.

The first team of consultants involved in the project arrived last month and has commenced gathering data. The team is at present working with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to develop a training curriculum. The team will leave here in two weeks and return in November for an 11-month stint, when the training of farmers will begin.

As part of this project, a group of FAO technical officers visited Guyana from April 25-29 and held discussions with major stakeholders, including the Guyana Rice Producers' Association, the GRDB, rice farmers and rice extension personnel. Today there are several private aquaculture farms around the country and some 6,000 acres under cultivation, GINA said, increasing from 200 acres in 1992.