NAREI introduces ‘climate-smart agriculture’ at New Amsterdam Prison

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NAREI Training Manager Warren Barlow

In order to boost agricultural production within the Guyana Prison Service, the sector has incorporated the construction of a shade house at the New Amsterdam Prison Farm in Region Six.

The new initiative is a collaborative effort between the Guyana Prison Service and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). Shade houses, similar to greenhouses, allow for the cultivation of crops in a controlled environment and, while not a new concept, is now attracting increased interest at the Guyana Prison Service.

To this end, training in shade house practices was provided to three staff members and six inmates from the New Amsterdam location by a team from NAREI on March 9, 2022.

Training Manager of NAREI Warren Barlow said shade house is beneficial in a number of ways since the floods of 2005 and 2021 was a reminder of how vulnerable our agricultural sector is towards climatic shocks.

Mr. Barlow said one of the more important benefits of being advanced is that it is also considered an adaptation mechanism to the effects of climate change.

“The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and income growth, threatens food security everywhere. The objective of this training on Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices is intended to build the capacity on the impacts and mitigation strategies of climate change in Guyana’s agriculture,” he said.

Mr. Barlow explained that the shade house offers a two weeks jump in the development of plants and harvesting can be done earlier, increasing production and adding to the provision of better nutrition.

(From left) NAREI Extension Officer Yashma Subhai; the three female inmates; Warren Barlow, Training Officer Nehal Patterson and the three male inmates

Noting that the shade house promises to be the wave of the future, Mr. Barlow outlined that if the Prison Service grasp the application of the new technologies to produce new high-value crops, it can boost its production.

Training Officer Nehal Patterson and Extension Officer Yashma Subhai, were also part of the one-day training.

The shade house structures have ‘UV’ plastic roofing and walls, complete with a shade mesh that prevents solar radiation and other mesh to keep out insects. Ventilation, irrigation and control systems add to the creation of a control situation for cultivation, facilitating higher productivity of cash and high-value crops.

However, unlike the greenhouse, the shade house is not completely enclosed and that marked difference in the infrastructure is what sets the two apart. (Guyana Prison Service press release)

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