Quinoa field trials, expansion of wheat production to start in Guyana soon
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha says new field trials for quinoa production and expansion of wheat cultivation will commence in Region Nine (Upper Takatu, Upper Essequibo) and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) in the coming months.
Mustapha on Thursday told the News Room via telephone that following the agro-investment conference back in May, some 5,000 acres of land in the Rupununi was earmarked for wheat production trials to commence by the end of July.
“We are closing in on the time to do the trials because by the end of this month, hopefully if the rain ease, we will do a 5,000-acre trial in the Rupununi area [for wheat],” the Agricultural Minister said.
The Minister said that during the conference, the government indicated an interest in planting wheat in the region. Both Mexico and Brazil are interested in supporting the trials.
President Irfaan Ali in response to the global increase in the cost of wheat recently, had registered the government interest in planting wheat here.
“Soon we are going to work to see whether we can find a variety of wheat that we can plant in Guyana so that we can fulfill even our local requirement,” President Ali had said.
Meanwhile, a trial for quinoa production may start at Region Six. The Ministry through the National Agricultural Research and Extensive Institute (NAREI) will support the team led by overseas Guyanese agri-business, Felix Quinoa Farming Industry (FQFI). The team visited in June and held discussions with local authorities.
“They will start a trial there [in Region Six] and we will support them from NAREI to conduct that trial.
“They will be back in the country in another few months. Hopefully when they get back we can start work there and help them with the trials they want,” the minister said.
According to Mustapha, experts have indicated that quinoa is feasible and can be grown in Guyana. “That is why I want them to do the trial first,” Mustapha clarified that the trial will last in the next three months.
He said the grains take about three months from the time planted to being reaped.
Discussion for the production of quinoa in Guyana has been in the works since 2015, when FQFI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agriculture Ministry outlining areas of partnership for the introduction and production of quinoa- a grain- to Guyana’s other crops sector. Trials were anticipated for a September 2017 start.
Quinoa is a healthier alternative to rice. In South America, it is mainly produced in Bolivia and Peru.