A West Virginia University scientist has shared his expertise with farmers in Guyana.
Rakesh Chandran of WVU s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, and Agriculture and Natural Resources unit of WVU Extension, traveled to Georgetown, Guyana, from Oct. 24 to Nov. 5, through the Farmer to Farmer Program with Washington, D.C.-based Partners of the Americas.
Chandrans assignment was to assess the current practices related to weed management in vegetable production in Guyana, and to help farmers improve their productivity by recommending more effective techniques.
Guyana, a tropical country of 750,000 people sharing borders with Surinam, Brazil, and Venezuela, is called theLand of Many Watersowing to the rich fabric of rivers and their tributaries that run the length and breadth of this lush green rain-forested country.
Farmers are anxious to implement new technologies in their production systems. While they are aware of the existence of such technology, they lack knowledge and resources to do so,Chandran said.
Although sugarcane is still the major crop of this former British colony, farmers are trying to diversify their operations towards more profitable crops, he said.
Chandran noted several positive attributes related to the farming community such as dominant farmersmarkets and a free health care system. However, the average vegetable farmer lagged about 30 years behind his counterpart in the U.S in vegetable weed management technology.
Farmers wholeheartedly welcomed the efforts of international agencies such and the Partners of Americas to assist them with knowledge-based resources.
Chandran was able to work with the vegetable growers in the Parika region of Guyana and set up a field demonstration to familiarize the growers with modern techniques of weed management in sweet pepper.
He met with the leaderships of National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), University of Guyanas College of Agriculture, and Agrichemical Industry along with a brief visit with the countrys prime minister during his two-week stay in Guyana. The University of Guyana welcomed collaborative efforts with the College of Agriculture at WVU to foster research projects of mutual interest.
Small farmers do possess certain universal traits where ever they go. They are good-hearted people, hard-working by nature, and are committed to and enjoy what they do,Chandran said.Their services are invaluable to the society, yet they do not receive the support they deserve in return.
The trip was sponsored by Partners of the Americas (see below), specifically the Farmer to Farmer Program. The Farmer to Farmer Program improves economic opportunities in rural areas of Latin America and the Caribbean by increasing food production and distribution, promoting better farm and marketing operations and conserving natural resources.
The PartnersFarmer to Farmer Program is supported by Congress and the Agency for International Development as part of the United States foreign assistance program.
Farmer to Farmer brings together agricultural professionals and practitioners from the U.S. and Latin America. Volunteers from the U.S. work with farmers and ranchers in Latin America to identify local needs and design projects to address them.
Partners was founded in 1964 as the people-to-people component of the Alliance for Progress.
Today, it is a private, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, enjoying the support of many committed volunteers, international corporations, public agencies, and foundations.
Partners of the Americas is the largest volunteer-based organization in the western hemisphere engaged in social, economic, and cultural development. The organization works by pairing U.S. states with Latin American and Caribbean countries in 60 partnerships.
Overall, this trip broadened my outlook,Chandran said.I found it to be a fulfilling experience at both personal and professional levels.