Canada Supports Trial of Irish Potato Varieties in Guyana

With the support of Canada, a research trial on several varieties of Irish potatoes to determine their suitability for local conditions is underway.

High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Pierre Giroux visited one of the pilot plots in Laluni, Soesdyke, Region 4.
 

While it was previously thought that Irish potatoes could not be grown commercially in Guyana, approximately 5,675 tonnes of potatoes per year are now consumed there. . 

A research trial on several varieties of Irish potatoes is underway to determine their suitability for local conditions. Thirteen ¼ acre Irish potatoes pilot plots are currently being supported through the $20 million Canada-funded Caribbean regional Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) project.

The trial began about a year ago when an initial assessment of the suitability of the Guyanese conditions for the cultivation of Irish potatoes was conducted through the PROPEL project.  With promising findings, the project also supported several capacity building initiatives, including cross-regional exchanges for select local producers and research scientists from the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). 

Recently, the High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Pierre Giroux visited one of the pilot plots in Laluni, Soesdyke, Region 4.  He highlighted the work of the PROPEL project as an important part of Canada’s contribution to agricultural diversification in Guyana as a vehicle for sustainable economic growth.  Through the project, which is being implemented by the World University Science of Canada (WUSC), Canada is providing seeds and technical support to farmers to help create the most conducive conditions for the cultivation of Irish potatoes.  A key component of the sustainability of this initiative is the training and capacity building of NAREI extension officers who will in turn be able to provide support to farmers desirous of embarking on Irish potato cultivation. 

A similar initiative under the Canada-funded project in Jamaica was remarkably successful, resulting in import substitution and locally grown potatoes satisfying approximately 80% of the Jamaican demand.   All indications are that similar or even better results can be expected in Guyana.  Already at the 4 week stage of the trial, yields are comparable to international standards.  The High Commissioner of Canada was particularly pleased that of all the varieties tested, the Canadian varieties of the Irish potatoes showed the most potential. 

The project has already secured a local market for the first crop of Irish potatoes and is also working to ensure all stakeholders from the producer to the consumer are involved.  The implications for Guyana are significant with the success of this trial and the advancement of production.  The aim is to be able to supply the majority of the local demand for Irish potatoes to assist farmers, the agricultural sector and the economy.