NON TRADITIONAL AGRICULTURE
12.I BASIC FEATURES OF THE SECTOR
12.I.1 The term "non-traditional agriculture" is used in Guyana
to include all components of the agricultural sector with the exception of rice,
sugar, forestry and fishing.
12.I.2 The major non-traditional crops (NTCs) are the
following: Cereals and Legumes: corn, blackeye, minica; Oilseeds:
peanut and coconut; Ground Provisions: cassava, sweet potatoes, eddoes,
yam, tania/dasheen, plantains; Vegetables and greens: tomatoes, cabbage,
pumpkin, bora, ochro, boulanger, squash, cucumber; Herbs, Spices and
Seasonings: eschallot, hot pepper, ginger, tumeric; Fruits: banana,
pineapple, pear, carambola and watermelon; Other Fruits: mangoes, genip,
cherry, awara; Citrus: lime, grapefruit, orange; Other Crops:
Coffee, cocoa and cotton; pasture/forage, ornamentals and floriculture.
12.I.3 Livestock includes dairy and beef cattle, swine,
poultry, sheep, goats, wildlife and other livestock such as rabbits and bees.
12.I.4 Non-traditional crops are geographically distributed
across the 10 regions.
12.I.5 Except for coconut palms, almost all of the fruits,
vegetables, legumes and ground provisions are grown by a large number of small
farmers mostly along the coastal belt and in the riverain areas, but also in
enclaves in the intermediate savannahs and in the townships which border
neighbouring countries. In contrast the production of coconut palms is largely
concentrated in the coastal areas, and is achieved chiefly by large farmers.
12.I.6 Small farmers produce all fruit and most vegetables
grown in Guyana, 80 percent of the grain crops, 60 percent of the coconuts, and
40 percent of the palm oil.
12.I.7 Non-traditional agriculture comprises farming systems
that are small in scale, use a low level of technology, and are labour
intensive. Subsistence farming, a tendency to stick to traditional agricultural
practices, and an absence of supportive services to encourage farmers to adopt
improved methodologies for increasing production and productivity also
characterise the sub-sector. However, the sub-sector's contribution to the
livelihood of rural households, national food security, and foreign exchange
earnings are not insignificant.
12.I.8 Guyana is self-sufficient in vegetables (including root
crops and tubers), fruits, beef and mutton. Indeed, it is virtually
self-sufficient in all crops, except spice and vegetables. Moreover, eggs,
poultry and milk production has increased considerably in recent years.
12.I.9 Although the sub-sector's export potential remains
relatively untapped, overseas markets are opening for a wide variety of crops
and will gain momentum with the advent of improved marketing arrangements. The
cases of pineapple and plantain are especially noteworthy but there is a growing
awareness of production and export possibilities for many other non-traditional
12.I.10 The agri-business and agro-industrial development of
the sub-sector are in the hands of small, poorly resourced independent
operators, and the supply chain is characterised by low productivity, high
post-harvest losses, high prices to consumers and praedial larceny. Nonetheless,
the sector provides sustenance to the rural poor, most of whom are self-employed
in agriculture or are workers in the rice and sugar industries, both of which
12.I.11 Export volumes of non-traditional crops have increased
through the initiatives of small traders rather than through organised and
adequately financed operations.
12.I.12 Most of the crop farmers in Guyana are involved in
mixed crop farming. Current agronomic practices are consistent with those for
systems of low level technological packages.
12.II ISSUES AND CONSTRAINTS
12.II.1 Land and Infrastructure
12.II.1.1 The administration of State lands is inefficient,
leading to the frustration of farmers' efforts to obtain information on leases
and the availability of unutilised idle land. In addition, there is imprecision
in the identification of boundaries.
12.II.1.2 There is no clear demarcation of which land falls
under the jurisdictions of the Lands and Surveys Department, the Geology and
Mines Commission, and the Forestry Commission.
12.II.1.3 There is growing competition for available land among
traditional and non-traditional crops, housing, and industrial land
12.II.1.4 The historical layout of drainage and irrigation
infrastructure is consistent with what is required for rice and sugar, but is
not necessarily appropriate for the economic production of NTCs and livestock.
Yet the necessary modifications to the land infrastructure have not been made,
even in cases when farmers wish to emphasise NTCs and livestock.
12.II.2 Extension Services, Research and
12.II.2.1 Extension services and research and development are
under the jurisdiction, or depend upon, too many government, semi-autonomous,
and regional and international agencies that are too dispersed and ineffective.
12.II.2.2 Limited funding, staff shortages, low salaries, poor
transport facilities, and inadequate and infrequent meetings of personnel impede
collaboration and coordination.
12.II.2.3 Research is sometimes unrelated to the needs of
farmers and is spread out over a wide range of crops in diverse geographical
12.II.2.4 The sub-sector is not structured along the lines of
those developed for rice and sugar. As a result, incentive packages and specific
programmes for some components of the industry have been neglected.
12.II.2.5 Regional training sessions are sporadic. All were
cancelled in 1998.
12.II.3 Socio-cultural and economic constraints
12.II.3.1 There is a high incidence of praedial larceny in the
12.II.3.2 There is a high incidence of migration, especially of
youths, from the rural to the urban areas.
12.II.3.3 There is much gender discrimination in employment
12.II.4.1 The production of NTCs and livestock is not guided
effectively by market intelligence services. The seasonality of export demand,
weather patterns, and input price fluctuations leads to a very unstable supply
of produce ranging from gluts to scarcity. Input availability, soil types,
farmers' experience and perceived demand also govern production levels and
farmers' choices of commodities. There is poor organisation among farmers at
local and national levels, and hence there is little exchange of experience and
no coordinated effort to obtain information on external markets.
12.II.4.2 Essential marketing linkages (local and overseas) are
limited. Knowledge of existing trends in prices and demand, and of the
availability of supplies, is therefore restricted. Much needed information on
existing acreages, costs of production, seasonality etc., that is required for
farmers' planning purposes is poorly collated.
12.II.5.1 Inadequate transportation infrastructure and poor
transport services are a major impediment to the marketing of agricultural
products within and out of Guyana. Poor transportation services contribute to
the wide spread between ex-farm and retail prices. Riverain producers and
consumers are particularly subject to very inadequate transportation linkages,
but, in general, both water and road transport are unreliable and high priced.
Local roads are in very poor conditions.
12.II.5.2 Exporters are seriously inconvenienced by poor port
facilities, limited cargo space, and the frequent need for transhipment of goods
12.II.6 Storage and handling
12.II.6.1 The extreme unavailability of power and potable water
supplies are major causes of post-harvest losses and are a most serious
constraint to the development of milk pasteurisation units and meat storage
12.II.6.2 The country has a shortage of trained cadres in
post-harvest technology and very few entrepreneurs in agro-processing. A high
percentage of wastage therefore results, and less than one percent of total
production is exported.
12.II.6.3 The six established wholesale marketing centres
(except Black Bush Polder) have been sidelined by private initiatives and local
retail markets (34 municipal and 36 roadside), and are poorly serviced with
12.II.7 Product Standards
12.II.7.1 The handling of foods in production, manufacturing,
transportation, storage and in other stages in the farm-to-market chain leaves
much to be desired. The health and the nutritional status of the population are
affected by adulteration, and the presence of industrial pollutants,
environmental contaminants, toxins and chemical residues in the food consumed.
The Government Analyst's Department cannot effectively oversee all stages of
food production, and seems to concentrate its activities on the microbiological
surveillance of retailed food.
12.II.7.2 Legislation to ensure that standards are met for the
inputs used by the sub-sector is not enforced.
12.II.8 Credit and Investment
12.II.8.1 The highly risky nature of agricultural production in
an environment that is not supportive of its development is not conducive to the
procurement of lines of credit. Lending agencies do not seek out businesses in
rural districts and are truly ignorant of farmers' financial needs. For whatever
reason, GAIBANK, the major agricultural lending agency in the past, did not seek
to recover funds expeditiously from defaulters. This has assisted in creating a
poor credit servicing mentality in rural areas, which in turn increases the
difficulties of obtaining new credit.
12.II.8.2 Prospective investors in NTCs and livestock have been
unable to fulfill the conditionalities of creditors, and have been discouraged
by unattractive terms for financing. Misleading investment guidelines further
exacerbate the farmers' predicament. Tax evasion and nonpayment of duties are
prevalent in the system.
12.II.9 Labour and Other Inputs
12.II.9.1 For the most part, agricultural labour has over the
years moved into the rice, logging and sugar subsectors, or totally out of
agriculture. The difficulties that farmers experience in obtaining basic inputs
(particularly from overseas) and the low prevailing income levels are
disincentives to the development of the subsector.
12.II.10 Education and Training
12.II.10.1 The teaching of agriculture in primary schools was
catered for by the fifth component of the SSEE syllabus but this was
discontinued in the early 1980s, due to financial and staffing constraints. At
the secondary school level Agricultural Science is offered at CXC. The number of
students taking this subject is extremely low, and the proportion of passes
12.II.10.2 Pre- and post-service training in agriculture is
provided by the Faculties of Agriculture and Education of the University of
Guyana, the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), the Regional Educational
Programme for Animal Health Assistants (REPAHA), the Agricultural In-service
Training Communication Center (AITCC), the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the
Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock (MOFC&L), and the National
Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARI). Most of these
institutions lack adequate teaching instruments, do not offer programmes that
are relevant to the country's developmental needs, are strapped for funds, and
do not have the required numbers of skilled teachers. The end result is
under-qualified and poorly trained graduates, unable to function in the farming
communities to which they are later exposed.
Continuous farmer training
12.II.10.3 Apart from the Dairy Training Centre at the St.
Stanislaus College farm, there is no teaching institute established specifically
for training farmers.
12.II.11 Germplasm Supply
12.II.11.1 Germplasm is produced both by the governmental and
privately owned agencies. Collectively they are unable to satisfy the demand for
plants and, apart from using old stock, are in need of infrastructural
rehabilitation. This problem is now being addressed.
12.II.12 Plant Protection and Quarantine Services
12.II.12.1 The inadequate monitoring of our ports, places the
country's agriculture at risk. Guyana's plant health capabilities are inadequate
and, accordingly, the country is unable to make definitive statements on the
incidence of pests and diseases. This affects the ability to export.
12.II.12.2 The Office of the Quarantine Services has no
authority to withhold a consignment after Customs' clearance. Very often,
because of the ignorance of the staff of the Customs' Department, importers are
allowed to clear agricultural products without import licenses, phytosanitation
certificates or inspections from Plant Quarantine officers.
12.II.12.3 The country has no facilities for the bulk treatment
of fruits and vegetables earmarked for export.
12.II.13.1 Guyana is "self-sufficient" in fresh meats but not
in milk and poultry. Although the production of milk and poultry has increased
considerably over the years, livestock production is still well below its
potential capacity. The industry requires a well-coordinated infusion of support
services to sustain and increase production, and ultimately to capture export
markets. Low level technological applications prevail in the subsector, and
farmers (particularly pig and small ruminants producers) operate largely at
12.II.13.2 Liveweight gains, milk production and the
reproductive performance of all livestock classes are sub-optimal because of
inadequate nutritional programmes.
12.II.13.3 The supply of readily available energy-based feeds,
rice bran and wheat middlings, has been reduced abruptly because these products
are exported to preferential markets for cargo rice, and because of the
unlimited importation of processed flour.
12.II.13.4 Protein feeds are imported at high costs, thus
contributing to the elevated prices for poultry and pork.
12.II.13.5 Ruminant producers continue to compete with
traditional crop farmers for land for pasturage.
12.II.13.6 The country's livestock population is relatively
disease-free except for endo- and ecto-parasitic burdens and their associated
diseases. Tuberculosis in cattle has been identified in some enclaves. Poultry
producers have been experiencing undiagnosed conditions of respiratory ailments
and nervous (tremor) syndromes. Pigs and small ruminants continue to be affected
by endo-parasitic burdens that have not been evaluated.
12.II.13.7 The veterinary services offered by MOFC&L are
very poorly supported, and veterinarians are incapable of carrying out their
functions because of the lack of transportation, drugs, equipment and
facilities. A case in point is the inability to carry out the Bovine
Tuberculosis Eradication Programme because of the inadequacy of
12.II.13.8 There are no specialised breeding programmes in
place, except for cattle via the National Dairy Development Programme's (NDDP)
Artificial Insemination Service, which uses imported frozen semen from improved
beef and dairy breeds.
12.II.13.9 Poultry and swine breeding is ad hoc, and
mainly consists of a selection process. The introduction of new breeds for these
classes of livestock is at a standstill.
12.II.13.10 For all types of livestock financial constraints
and the absence of adequate physical facilities inhibit progress in animal
breeding in relation to acquiring germplasm for tropically adapted breeds from
overseas, and establishing evaluation programmes.
12.II.13.11 There is no monitoring agency to document and
evaluate what is occurring in the field, though it is known that farmers, based
on their own preferences and experience, are conducting breeding
12.II.13.12 The constraints highlighted in the paragraphs
relating to nutrition, health and genetic improvement are indicative of the low
level of management practices that are employed in livestock rearing. Poultry
and pig rearing is basically intensive, while cattle, sheep and goats graze
extensively in very diverse management systems. Ruminant livestock are generally
considered as a family asset, only to be drawn upon as the need arises and not
to be developed economically. Farmers do not seek to find markets for their meat
animals but sell only when approached by butchers and middlemen. Poultry farmers
tend to plan for the immediate future and frequently make market predictions
that lead to economic losses in addition to causing serious disruptions in
supply. New approaches to integrated farming practices have not caught on with
the farming community, despite the fact that many small producers have both
livestock and crops on their farmsteads. Often, one activity influenced by
short-term market conditions will be undertaken to the detriment of another.
12.III SECTORAL OBJECTIVE
12.III.1 The overall objective of the sector is to increase the
rate of growth of its output, in the knowledge that by doing so a most
significant number of job opportunities would be created.
12.IV THE STRATEGY
12.IV.1 Extension Services, Research and Development
12.IV.1.1 A modern computerised information centre to
facilitate the collection, storage and retrieval of agricultural information,
will be established at NARI.
12.IV.1.2 Research and development studies will be concentrated
on selected commodities and in geographically delineated zones. The selection of
the commodities will be based on their production potential and marketability.
12.IV.1.3 Research on relevant farming systems, particularly
those relating to farm mechanisation, will be developed.
12.IV.1.4 Extension officers will pay particular attention to
imparting information on agro-processing and post-harvest losses, and will give
guidance on the selection of plant and animal germplasm.
12.IV.1.5 The private sector and the farmers will become more
involved in establishing the specific goals of agricultural research, by
themselves participating in extension through, for example, workshops at both
the community and national levels.
12.IV.1.6 The National Science Research Council, comprising
agricultural agencies and the heads of relevant institutions, will be
resuscitated to ensure collaboration and exchange of ideas on a regular basis.
12.IV.1.7 A National Livestock Development Agency will
be established. This will be similar in structure and function to the NDDP
(semi-autonomous), and will incorporate the NDDP as well as development
programmes pertaining to small ruminants (sheep and goats), swine, apiculture,
rabbits and farmable wildlife (e.g. alligators, iguana, deer, etc.).
12.IV.2.1 An advisory services agency will be established to
provide marketing intelligence (including market opportunities) to farmers on a
timely basis. The agency will also help producers in finding inputs, obtaining
access to markets, and in directing farmers' concerns to relevant institutions.
It will establish a computerised information network with linkages to overseas
markets. The encouragement of agro-processing as the thrust for the future will
be the focus of this agency.
12.IV.2.2 More individuals will be trained in post-harvest
technology. The concept of marketing centres will be revived, and the management
of the municipal markets will upgrade facilities for weighing, storage,
sanitation, communication, banking, parking, rate collections, etc., in an all
encompassing effort to provide more adequate services to buyers and sellers.
12.IV.2.3 The private sector will be involved in the management
of marketing centres.
12.IV.2.4 The Food and Drug Act will be updated to conform with
international standards for chemical and disease free food.
12.IV.3 Credit and Investment
12.IV.3.1 Microcredit schemes will be put in place in order to
assist in the development of this sector. This will be an integral part of the
country's overall poverty elimination programme.
12.IV.3.2 Credit agencies will be sensitised to farmers'
financial requirements by extending their outreach programmes into the rural
communities and will introduce systems of lending via small loan schemes for
farmers without collateral.
12.IV.4 Rural Development Centres and Agricultural
12.IV.4.1 The NDDP has made a positive step in registering all
cattle owners in Guyana and unifying them by forming village groups, distinct
and regional associations and by ensuring their participation at national cattle
farmer congresses. A similar arrangement exists for the rice farmers via the
RPA, with the GRDB acting as a regulatory body. This type of organisation will
be encouraged for the NTCs and other livestock producers, with support from the
NGMC, IICA, CARDI, and the Extension Division of the Ministries of Agriculture,
and Fisheries, Crops and Livestock.
12.IV.4.2 Agricultural Cooperatives will be revamped to
encourage the formation of self-help societies that aim to improve the economic
welfare of its members through planning and management.
12.IV.4.3 Government will support these groups via direct
contracts for food supplies to Government-managed institutions and feeding
programmes for schools and the needy.
12.IV.5 Other Inputs
12.IV.5.1 Government and private investors will together foster
the creation of machinery pools and fabrication units to cater for the
mechanisation needs of farmers. Government will take active steps to encourage
reputable international fruit marketing firms to come to Guyana and enter into
12.IV.6 Education and Training
12.IV.6.1 Agriculture will be re-introduced into the primary
12.IV.6.2 Learning institutions will be better equipped with
teaching instruments - laboratories, audiovisual aids, experimental plots and
cages, green houses.
12.IV.6.3 Improved working conditions and salaries will be
provided to attract a higher calibre of teaching staff.
12.IV.6.4 The mandate of the FTC will be to promote awareness
of technological advancement and to educate farmers continuously on developments
in agriculture. The FTC will cater for residential courses and will be equipped
with audiovisual and publishing facilities for the production of films, radio
programmes and newsletters that can be disseminated through the media.
12.IV.7 Agronomic Practices
12.IV.7.1 The Crop Improvement Programme and the Extension
Service units of the MOA in collaboration with research agencies will create
programmes that have applicability to existing farming conditions, and are
consistent with the varying levels of farmers' economic resources. Priority will
be placed on developing agronomic programmes for crop varieties that have
assured markets (particularly export markets). Cropping systems that allow for
the continuous supply of those food crops that are traditionally seasonal will
also be given special attention.
12.IV.7.2 Water management; the control of weeds, pests and
diseases; fertilizer application and soil fertility; land preparation; planting
methods; harvesting; and crop suitability for various ecological and climatic
zones will be specifically considered.
12.IV.8 Germplasm Supply
12.IV.8.1 A programme for the attainment of self-sufficiency in
germplasm will be established. The programme will address collection,
characterisation, certification and varietal improvement.
12.IV.8.2 If importation must continue in the short run, strict
guidelines for quality standards, adaptability and phytosanitation will be
formulated and applied.
12.IV.8.3 The supply of germplasm has an enormous potential for
cost recovery. Government will progressively remove subsidies in this venture.
This step may cause farmers to be more careful in the handling and care of
purchased planting material.
12.IV.9 Plant Protection and Quarantine Services
12.IV.9.1 A survey on the main pests and diseases affecting
local crops will be conducted.
12.IV.9.2 Programmes to control, prevent and eradicate the
major pests and diseases identified in the survey will be developed and
12.IV.9.3 Workshops on critical pest and disease problems will
be organised, and crop farmers will be apprised of their incidence, location,
and relevant control methods on a timely basis.
12.IV.9.4 Plant quarantine laws will be utilised to provide
greater authority to officers in the execution of their duties.
12.IV.9.5 New surveillance points will be opened along the
country's borders to restrict the entry of pests and diseases.
12.IV.9.6 A National Surveillance Service Unit (NSSU) will be
12.IV.10.1 The production of alternative energy feeds (low
quality rice, corn, sorghum, or cassava) to counteract the decline in the supply
of rice and wheat by-products will be pursued. Private investment in this area
will be encouraged, through the provision of fiscal incentives.
12.IV.10.2 Similar incentives will be provided for the
establishment of a rendering plant to produce high protein meat meals from the
quantities of fish, poultry, swine and ruminant processing wastes that are
12.IV.10.3 The livestock population of Guyana would, of course,
require adequate pasturage to support its sustainable development. Efforts will
be made to improve the productivity of the saline soils to the north and the
acid soils farther inland for livestock rearing.
12.IV.10.4 Research will continue on the development of
nutritious forage species that are adaptable to soil conditions.
12.IV.10.5 Land use capability studies will seek to ascertain
the most appropriate areas for livestock rearing.
12.IV.10.6 An animal nutrition project that aims at educating
farmers on correct feeding principles will be undertaken, collaboratively, by
all relevant agencies (MOFC&L, NDDP, CARDI and IICA).
12.IV.10.7 The Veterinary Laboratory at Mon Repos will be
rehabilitated to provide all the services needed for disease surveillance and
laboratory diagnostics. Diseases of immediate concern are tuberculosis, and
bovine paralytic rabies, since clinical evidence points to their presence in
Guyana. The laboratory staff will also be involved in disease eradication and
control programmes and in developing systems of herd health prophylaxis. Clients
will be charged for services.
12.IV.10.8 Clearance for the export of meat (particularly beef)
from Guyana hinges on proper abattoir facilities, a functional diagnostic
laboratory, and well-equipped field veterinarians. Guyana will seek to put in
place these facilities and initiate meat exports, in accordance with OIE
guidelines. Increased rates for slaughtering will provide the finance necessary
to improve the conditions at the abattoirs and to maintain inspection
programmes, and to ensure the optimal functioning of a Meat Marketing
Board, the establishment of which is an absolute priority.
12.IV.10.9 The Government will improve the emoluments of
veterinary staff, and provide transportation facilities to allow them to execute
their functions. Charging for drugs and surgical procedures will contribute to
the costs involved. Core funding, however, will remain the responsibility of the
12.IV.10.10 A survey of the health status of all livestock in
Guyana will be undertaken as a priority measure.
12.IV.10.11 The livestock development programme for Guyana will
include an Animal Breeding Unit, The unit will support itself by the sale of
breeding stock; charges for artificial insemination; and donor-financed
12.IV.10.12 It is important that breeds be fully identified,
breed performance be evaluated, and cross-breeding programmes be established to
derive optimal performance parameters. In sheep, the Corentyne white breed has
shown superiority on empirical evidence. A complete study will be carried out to
measure all technical performance parameters of this breed. Other proven
tropical breeds for sheep, goat and pigs will be introduced and their
performance evaluated. In addition, tropically adapted breeds will be included
in a national breeding programme.
12.IV.10.13 Integrated farming systems will be encouraged, to
allow farmers to market produce and be self sufficient in their household
requirements for meat, milk and vegetables.
12.IV.10.14 The following types of livestock research will be
undertaken: on-farm management systems; nutrition, especially mineral/trace
element requirements and the use of chemical growth and production enhancers;
reproductive physiology; applied Breeding and Genetics; livestock diseases,
especially as they relate to endo and ecto parasitisms; the sociology of farming
groups; post harvest storage and the shelf life of product; the use of
antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs and the development of resistence thereto;
the environmental impact of production systems, and production methods and their
relation to inhumane animal stress.