Spices have a profound influence on the course of human civilization and is an integral part of the culture and religious activities of the people of Guyana. Realizing the potential of spices in the country, the National Competitiveness and the National Strategy for Agriculture in Guyana have established and recommended national and regional policy guidelines which represent the cornerstone for the development of the agricultural and marketing sectors in the country.

The diversification of the agriculture sector with explicit reference to the development of non-traditional agricultural products such as nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, etc. and value added agricultural commodities have acquired high priority positions. This spices programme seeks to satisfy the national policy of the country by developing the spices industry in Guyana.

Though the country does not grow many spices, the presence of the spices industry is relatively strong. Curry powder, garam masala, jeera powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder etc. are manufactured in Guyana with the imported whole commodities. The major players in the local spices industry include Edward. B. Beharry & Sons Co. Ltd, and Rick & Sari. Some of the famous brands of the manufactured spices are Indi madras curry powder, Indi garam masala, Indi jeera powder etc.

Presently, spices such as black pepper, ginger, and turmeric are grown in an organized way due to the climatic and soil factors prevailing in the country which are congenial for these commodities. The hinterland regions of the country are more suited for spices cultivation. The spices project started in June 2008, with the objectives to train manpower in spices research and development, reduce spices import, capitalize on the existing market in Guyana and most importantly improve the economic livelihoods of the hinterland communities.

Turmeric is one the major spices grown in Guyana since in the 1960, primarily in Barima Waini, Region One. It was not grown in an organized way largely due to the lack of knowledge of the agronomic practices and processing requirements. Turmeric is ready to harvest in about eight to nine months and yield 15-25t/ha.

According to Region One famers, tons of fresh turmeric rhizomes were dumped because nobody at that time knew how to process the rhizomes. The National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute NAREI in 2008 set up pilot plots and did extensive training on the production technology of spices throughout the country. Today Guyana is producing turmeric on a semi commercial scale.

In an effort to stop history from repeating itself and avoid the spoilage of turmeric rhizomes NAREI imported a turmeric factory from India, which is soon to be commissioned at Hosororo, Region One. This factory will be used to process the fresh turmeric rhizomes and at the same time provide jobs for a number of persons from the Region.

The idea of having a processing factory is creating a buzz among the people. Many are happy that their labour and time would not be wasted planting turmeric. This processing facility would allow for the washing of the fresh turmeric rhizomes, removing of extraneous matter, boiling, drying, and polishing.

Miss Yvonne Webber of St. Anslem, Barima River, Region # 1 display her freshly harvested turmeric rhizomes

In excess of 50 farmers from various communities of Region One  such as Arukamai, Barima River, Aruka River, Hotoquai, Kaituma, Morwhanna, Hobodia, Yarakita, Aruau, Koberimo, St. Anslem, Kachi Kamo, Black water, Kamwatta, Wauna, White water have benefitted from planting materials, technical advice and training. They are now cultivating approximately 75 acres of turmeric. Production is expected to increase by 50 percent with the operationalization of the factory and imports will reduce by at least 25 percent by 2020.

  1. Turmeric cultivation at Kachi Kamo, Waini River
  2. Turmeric cultivation at St. Anslem, Barima River
  3. A farmer and her family of St. Anslem cleaning fresh turmeric rhizomes
  4. A sample of turmeric processed & polished by NAREI

Turmeric is very important in our everyday life because it can help prevent prostate cancer. The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs. If you do get a cold, a cough or the flu, you can feel better sooner by mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drink it once daily. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.