Enhancing food security in the North Rupununi of Guyana
Agriculture done right is the best means to enhancing food security with pivotal inputs such as the incorporation of practices that suit the climatic conditions of specific geographical areas. Residents in the North Rupununi of Guyana are prone to flooding and droughts, which can undermine food security. As a result, reliance on effective, timely and quality climate data becomes critical for agriculture production especially for vulnerable small farmers, livestock holders and agro-processors.
Mr. Carlton Jones from Aranaputa Village received agricultural training on the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) model- being implemented as part of the three-year (2018-2021) Japanese government funded project, “Strengthening Disaster Management Capacity of Women in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Commonwealth of Dominica.” The main lesson learnt by him was the need for crop diversification which would help to ensure sustainable food production. A path that leads to hope for a better tomorrow. Mr. Jones noted, “during the training I get a lot of new ideas to do new things.”
Mr. Jones has been farming for over 10 years on a small scale as limited financial resources hindered his ability to expand on a larger scale. His farm consisted of sweet cassava, bitter cassava, bora, corn, peanut, peas, banana and plantain prior to the training. On account of the training he has integrated three new crops namely – pak choi, lettuce and carrot.
He indicated that his love for farming motivated him to integrate these new crops and the process is experimentational and an additional option for livelihood using seasonal calendars to plant and harvest accordingly. He has never planted these crops and is excited that the sessions allowed participants to broaden their options.
His main challenge in incorporating this initiative was the destruction of a batch of carrots as a result of incorrect use of chemicals. He indicated that he was not disheartened by this and is motivated to continue since he has learnt so much from the sessions. He is looking forward to retrieving more carrot seedlings to continue that venture.
Additionally, he smiled while indicating “in the midst of that challenge my lettuce and pak choi are growing nicely.”
Being asked about his plans for these new crops- Carlton noted they are seen as a way for him to enhance his cash flow as he looks forward to extending his current market from his village to other far reaching areas such as Lethem (approximately 110 km away). The whole experience is one in which he says “I see it as something where I can do something more, I can be something more.”
UNDP Guyana in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture- Hydrometeorological Services will continue this training in other regions to enhance farmers’ capacity to alleviate the impact of disasters and climate change.
--- Prepared by Tashi Browne, Project Associate, UNDP Guyana