Woodley Park Farmers’ Group adapts climate-smart practices
Residential yards converted into small farms producing cash crops such as eschalot, celery, and peppers is a common sight in many West Coast Berbice, Region Five communities. While most of the produce are sold to wholesalers and end up in market places a portion is sold within the community and neighboring villages.
For over 15 years Savitri (only name given) has been producing eschalot and celery on a small scale- just enough to sell to neighbours. Her family depends on this income to satisfy their needs. For years, during rainy weather condition Savitri was unable plant owing to her land being susceptible to flooding.
This is no longer a challenge for her, thanks to collaboration between the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and Food for the Poor Guyana Inc. Earlier this year, Savitri and 15 other women benefited from a livelihood project, which saw the construction of tunnel houses to help combat climate change by adapting climate smart agricultural practices.
An additional shade house was constructed in the community to facilitate practical research for the cultivation of non-traditional crops such as cauliflower and bell sweet peppers. The project is referred to as the Woodley Park Farmers’ Group Shade House Project.
The benefits of growing crops under shaded conditions are already being enjoyed by Savitri. For example, during the recent rainy season Savitri’s yard was not converted into a swamp. Instead, under a tunnel house laid five 18-ft*80-ft beds covered with healthy green celery plants that were being harvested.
Further, the productivity of her farm has increased significantly. “Previously I used to reap 10 to 20 pounds of celery from my farm and sell to neighbours…Now, for this first crop I reap 45 pounds of celery…I sell my celery to persons in my community…I have no other means of earning an income so I am very grateful for this assistance I received,” Savitri said.
Smiling, Savitri said farming has never been this simple. The tunnel house protects her from the blistering sun and cleaning the beds is easy.
Savitri’s story is similar to the other women, who work tirelessly to improve the economic situation of their families. In fact, most of the beneficiaries are the head of their households. As such, the project aims to promote rural community development through sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on women empowerment.
NAREI is pleased to have partnered with Food For the Poor Guyana Inc. in providing the materials to construct the tunnel houses at a reduced cost. Extension Officers working in Region Five are working closely with the farmers to ensure the success of the project.
Dr. Oudho Homenauth, Chief Executive Officer of NAREI recently interacted with members of the women’s group. The group was at the time benefiting from a demonstration exercise where concerns about planting under shaded conditions were addressed.
Dr. Homenauth assured the group that NAREI will continue to provide technical support and transfer new technology through demonstration exercises. He noted that the women’s group made a wise choice to include climate smart practices that would provide year-round production and increase household incomes.