Kale, strawberries among crops targeted for new Guyana-led food plan


Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali made another food production proposal to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and now, countries will soon leverage hydroponics to grow kale, strawberries and other high-value crops.

This is according to Guyana’s Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, who chairs the Ministerial Task Force on Food Security in CARICOM.

Mustapha told the News Room that President Ali engaged fellow leaders on integrating hydroponics into food production efforts.

This is a form of farming that typically involves using little to no soil. And hydroponics can be done in shade houses where the conditions for growth can be controlled.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha (Photo: Ministry of Agriculture/September 01, 2022)

“He showed the amounts of imports we have been doing (and) he talked about the crops we should be doing,” Mustapha related.

Essentially, the plan involves identifying what high-value crops are specifically demanded by individual countries. Then, those crops will be grown in controlled facilities in those same countries, thereby reducing the amount of money spent importing fruits or vegetables.

And Mustapha said some of the crops identified include kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, parsley and strawberries.

“These are crops, soft crops, that will grow on hydroponics,” he said.

With this plan, it is expected that more women and youth will be engaged in cultivation efforts.

Guyana already started similar efforts with the production of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in the country.  This is helping the country target a multibillion-dollar import bill for these three vegetables.

Last week, at the conclusion of the Heads of Government meeting, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley said President Ali’s new proposal is a means of tapping into the US$28 million sum promised by the United States government last year.

This sum will enable countries to boost food production but each country is also required to invest their own resources too. Mustapha said Guyana pledged US$2 million to expand food production in-country.

Importantly, this new proposal builds on a proposal made last February, in Belize, when President Ali identified a suite of measures that could see Caribbean countries save millions by growing more food in the region.

These proposals were crafted given Guyana has the lead responsibility for food

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