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

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In an effort to boost agricultural production within the Guyana Prison Service (GPS), the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has introduced the concept of climate smart agriculture at the New Amsterdam Prison farm in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

Stakeholders participated in a one-day training on the use of shade houses, similar to greenhouses, which allow for cultivation of crops in a controlled environment. While not a new concept, it is now attracting increased interest at the GPS.

To this end, training in shade house practices were provided to three staff members and six inmates from the New Amsterdam location.

NAREI Training Manager Warren Barlow said one of the more important benefits of shade houses is its use as 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.

Barlow also 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.

Noting that shade houses promise to be the wave of the future, Barlow outlined that if the Prison Service grasps 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 which occurred on March 9.

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.