In keeping with the government’s drive to ensure food security and enhance the nation’s awareness of agricultural best practices, several learning institutions will soon benefit from the government’s rapidly expanding shade house initiative, through the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).
The shade house is a design which is covered by a woven material to allow sunlight, air and moisture to flow through the gaps in the material. Cummings Lodge Secondary School, East Coast Demerara is one of several learning facilities already benefitting from this initiative.
A shade house was erected at the school and equipped with raised beds and a drip irrigation system by NAREI, along with assistance from the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). NAREI also provided seedlings and technical support.
The shade house is managed by the students who plant crops including lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, and pak choi. The crops are sold to students, teachers and members of the community.
During a recent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), NAREI’s Chief Executive Officer, Jagnarine Singh underscored that one of the agency’s present mandates is to ensure the agriculture sector is developed in a scientific way, and through this, production and productivity are increased.
He said the move to introduce the technique into schools will expose students to climate-smart technology that requires less labour, and promotes year-round food production.
“We want our youths to experience modern agriculture. There are many opportunities in agriculture, and they do not have to be labour intensive. Agriculture is not a punishment but a rewarding venture. Gone are the days where a farmer has to be bending over for hours and then count losses during a flood,” he relayed.
The shade house initiative established in schools complements the government’s Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme (AIEP) which targets youths.
President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who launched the AIEP flagship programme in January, asserted that the project will stimulate and promote significant economic growth in the lives of young agriculturists. (Modified and Extracted from DPI)