The community of Paruima, an indigenous farming village in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni area of Guyana, was the most recent beneficiary of a new shade house facility, a cassava seed bank, training and support in climate smart agricultural practices as it seeks to remain productive. The village of Paruima is for the most part located in a valley and experiences flooding from time to time. Notwithstanding this, the soil type is extremely fertile, allowing the villagers to pursue farming as their main source of food and income.
Under the Disaster Risk Reduction project, which is currently being conducted by FAO Guyana and a number of Caribbean territories, more than fifty farmers participated in an extensive two days training exercise. The farmers were exposed to information about the construction of shade houses, characteristics of soil types, best results practices and crop management. Participants also received hands on experience in the construction of the shade house and the seed bank techniques. These interventions were introduced to the community upon the request of the Women’s Agriculture Group of Paruima some months ago during the scouting phase of the project. This group comprises female farmers, home wives and female villagers who work towards the upkeep of the community school-feeding programme, which provides breakfast and lunch meals to almost 200 primary school students on a daily basis.
The cassava seed bank is a technique used to create a repository of different propagating material in the event of lost due to natural disasters. Currently, the community is faced with a situation where after the rains cease and the floods subside; there is a shortage of planting material for the next crop. This technique will therefore ensure that there is enough cassava-planting material, readily available and accessible to farmers to commence their next crop, since cassava is the main staple of this community. The shade house on the other hand, will be utilized by the women’s group for the production of cash crops, and will allow the school feeding programme to benefit from fresh and healthy produce.
Farmers also seized the opportunity to interact with experts and received guidance from the team regarding other issues they constantly face, such as pest control, drainage and irrigation to mitigate flooding and other techniques that can be employed during times of prolonged dry season.
More than two-hundred and twenty students of Paruima Primary and Secondary schools were also engaged in similar discussions regarding the work of the FAO in food security and efforts to combat climate change. Students also expressed much interest in the climate smart agriculture techniques that were introduced to their community which they believe can alleviate the effects that changing weather patterns are having on the farms.
FAO continues to providing capacity-building opportunities to farmers’ groups, and rural communities with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture as it works towards taking urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts.