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CROP BUDGETING TRAINING HELPS GUYANA HYDROPONIC VEGETABLE PRODUCERS  

Under a Partners of the Americas "Shadehouse Production and Marketing Project," at least 200 home-based hydroponics vegetable producers and at least 20 low cost, small scale commercial hydroponics shadehouse vegetable producers are receiving technical assistance in hydroponics vegetable production. Using the hydroponic technique, it is possible to produce fresh, healthy vegetables in small spaces at home, often making use of discarded material, which if not used would have been garbage. Hydroponics also makes productive use of part of the spare time which is always available to some members of the family. In Guyana, hydroponics is considered a timely alternative vegetable production system of growing plants without soil. It is now being adopted by small farmers and persons who were not necessarily farmers (men, women and youth). Since hydroponics is a new enterprise in Guyana, many farmers engaging in the practice do not keep records of the cost of production or know which produce are profitable. Partners of the Americas and FAVACA recruited Dr. Robin Brumfield, Professor and Extension Specialist in Farm Management, Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Rutgers University, to travel to Guyana May 15-30, 2012 to provide trainings with farmers to stress the importance of record keeping, to advise operators on calculating costs and returns and profitability, to help them identify their highest costs and strategies for reducing costs and increasing returns, and encourage them to network with each other to become better and more profitable producers.

Brumfield helped orient producers to appropriate record keeping in order to monitor their cost of production of each batch of vegetables and to advise operators on calculating costs and returns and profitability. Brumfield developed budgets for annual operating costs and for producing lettuce, celery, and pakchoy and provided these to the farmers. Of the vegetables that were being grown in the shadehouses, celery was the most profitable followed by lettuce with pakchoy was not profitable. Once the budgets were made available to the farmers, some producers have already made changes to adjust their production to produce the mix of crops that consumers will purchase.  Now that they have completed the pilot stage, producers may want to identify other crops where they can find a niche market and obtain higher prices than they receive for their current crops. Moving forward, Brumfield recommends producers continue track all costs and record them, producers need to continue to keep track of labor by task since labor is the largest cost, and consider simple, low costs methods of automating watering and fertilizing such as a water hose with a hose-one because the labor required to water is the largest cost.

GUYANA AQUACULTURE INCREASE STANDARDS

The name Guyana comes from an Amerindians word meaning "land of many waters" due to the wealth of lakes and rivers throughout the country. The topography of the northern coast of Guyana consists of low marshy plains and waterways. Due in part to the abundance of fresh water, the aquaculture industry in Guyana has become increasingly competitive on the world stage and is quickly becoming a leading industry in the country.  Yet, due to the relatively quick growth, there are no procedures or standards to ensure quality from one aquaculture businesses to the next.  Ray Dewandel, Aquaculture Coordinator for CARANA Corporation, a company that designs and directs economic growth strategies for countries, businesses and donors, has been working with aquaculture companies to increase the quantity and quality of farm raised fish for export and requested the support of an aquaculture specialist to provide training on putting into practice standards and procedures for businesses to follow to help ensure consistent quality of produce coming out of Guyana. Dewandel contacted FAVACA and Partners of the Americas to find a specialist to help institute Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Agreeing to provide this training, Dr. John Hargreaves, Independent Consultant with Aquaculture Assessments, LLC from Baton Rouge, Louisiana traveled to Georgetown, Guyana September 13-20, 2011 to work with CARANA in developing GAPs and standard operating procedures.

AMERINDIAN COMMUNITY IN GUYANA DEVELOPS COSMETIC PRODUCTS

In the remote tropical forest of Guyana, the Amerindian population known as the Three Brothers Community have been producing Crabwood oil from Crabwood tree seeds (Carapa guianensis).  The oil is reputed to be an anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial as well as being very high in Vitamin E and effective in repelling mosquitoes.  The community wanted to utilize the oil in cosmetic products, however they have little experience creating cosmetic and consumer products with broad appeal and requested assistance from FAVACA.  In collaboration with Partners of the Americas and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs of Guyana, FAVACA recruited Dr. Henry Chan, Technical Director of Maylan Skincare and former Research and Development Manager for Blistex, to travel to Guyana August 16-29, 2011 to help community members develop cosmetic products such as lotions, creams and shampoos from Crabwood oil and other local resources.  Chan provided training on the physical and chemical properties of the ingredients and the function of these ingredients in formulas for creams, lotions and shampoos.  Each participant had a chance to weigh the chemicals and heat and mix the products employed.  The hands-on experience allowed participants to observe the process and make changes if the product was not congealing correctly.  Participants were able to take the shampoo, cream and lotion home to teach other community members to utilize Crabwood oil.  Based on Chan's recommendations, the community will also be looking at ways to improve packaging in order to prevent contamination and moisture loss.

INTEGRATED FARMING INCREASED IN GUYANA

The Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED) has been executing an Integrated Farming Model for Poor Farmers Project, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Currently there are nearly 200 farms practicing some form of integrated farming (a practice of farming which combines several farming activities on small farms and rural households) with duckweed production, bio-digestion of animal/plant wastes, fish farming or all three in some cases. As part of its activities, the project has established approximately 9 low cost, tubular plastic bio-digesters, which produce biogas from livestock manure for cooking. The bi-product from this process is used to fertilize ponds in which Lemna duckweed is grown, as well as to fertilize vegetables. The duckweed is then used to feed the livestock. In the integrated farming model, farmers collect manure from cows or pigs and then feed the low cost bio-digesters to generate methane gas, which in turn is used by households for cooking. Participating farmers have indicated that when duckweed is fed to fish there is no need to use any other feed and when fed to broiler chicks, the use of the commercial feed is reduced by 25 percent while at the same time, the chickens grow faster. In an effort to further enhance and fine tune the integrated farming methods used in Guyana, FAVACA and Partners of the Americas teamed together to send Tamra Fakhoorian, an algae and integrated agriculture specialist, Dr. Louis Landesman, an aquaculture and duckweed expert from the Virginia State University, and Vance Haugen from the University of Wisconsin Extension, to Guyana November 6-21, 2010 to work with approximately 30 farmers and groups near Georgetown, Linden, East and West Berbice, and Santa Rosa in the Maruca who are participating in IPED's integrated farming program. 

The team helped with revisions of the draft manuals for duckweed production, bio-digester assembly and maintenance, fish farming and integrated farming as a whole. The team provided extensive training to farmers on a variety of aspects of duckweed such as how to identify duckweed, shading requirements to allow for optimal growth, fertilization requirements for duckweed ponds, proper techniques to harvest duckweed, how to construct duckweed ponds, and using duckweed as a food source for fish and livestock.  Additionally, the team provided numerous recommendations to farmers using bio-digesters to increase the efficiency of the digesters while also ensuring proper construction and safety precautions.   As a result of the volunteers' work in Guyana, farmers have the resources available to increase duckweed production which will reduce the amount of feed farmers are purchasing by up to 25% or more. Additionally, farmers using bio-digesters now have the knowledge to properly produce methane gas and the techniques to safely extract the gas for cooking purposes.

GUYANA COMMUNITY IMPROVES NATURAL OIL AND SOAP PRODUCTION

The Three Brothers Community in Guyana, an Amerindian community located near the Waini River, produces a natural oil and soap from oil extracted from the seeds of the Crabwood tree (Carapa guianensis). Its oil is thought to have therapeutic value and is reputed to be an anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial as well as being very high in Vitamin E. A small cottage industry has been created and additional cosmetic products such as lotions and shampoos are hoped to be developed to allow for entry into new markets. FAVACA in collaboration with Partners of the Americas' John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer to Farmer program agreed to support the community by providing a cosmetic scientist to assist in developing new products. The community requested an expert to provide training on improving the quality and consistency of the oil while also increasing the scale of production. Likewise, the community would like a cosmetic scientist to look at the resources available to develop new products. Bruce Akers, a cosmetic scientist consultant from Larkspur, California agreed to traveled to Guyana February 13-28, 2010 and provide training on product development and quality control measures. While in the Waini River community, Akers trained participants on how to consistently produce the oil by mixing it at a specific temperature. Improving the quality and consistency of the oil increase market potential by having a reliable and consistent product vendors can purchase throughout the year. Additionally, Akers instructed how to increase the scale of production and to collect flowers and other natural products to add new fragrances to the oil, soap and lotions produced. Additional products such as shampoos can be produced with local resources and chemical ingredients found in Georgetown, Guyana.

Guyana Receives At-Risk Youth Development Training

Partners of Americas has been working in Guyana for several years implementing a program called Educare which provides educational and work development programs for at-risk youth. Educare has had some great success implementing these programs however Educare feels there is a need for some of their youth counselors to be trained in good counseling skills to enable them to reach out to more of the youth in their programs and help to work on issues that are affecting the youth. Therefore, Educare asked FAVACA for a volunteer expert who could provide training to staff members on how to talk and counsel the youth involved in their programs. FAVACA called upon the services of a veteran volunteer, Mary Ann Jones, a counselor with practices in West Palm Beach, Florida and San Francisco has years of experience working with adolescents who are considered at-risk youth. Jones traveled to Georgetown, Guyana February 1-14, 2008. While in Georgetown, Jones provided three 2-day workshops for Mercy Wings Training Centre, Glory Lights and Bernice Mansell all of which work with young men in need of help with self-esteem, tolerance issues, violence (domestic and peer to peer) and discipline. Jones met with 20 youth at each facility and was extremely successful in reaching out to these young men. Jones also met with many of the trainers from these facilities and provided them with new methods in dealing with problems that arise in one-on-one and group counseling as well as new skills to address issues of relationships, drugs, violence and other related topics. With the new skills learned, the trainers will now be able to travel to local communities and work the teachers and other professionals working with at-risk youth.

GUYANA BEEKEEPING CONFERENCE

Guyana once had a thriving beekeeping operation and use to be one of the leading honey producers in the Caribbean. Docile Italian Honey Bees thrived in the region creating bountiful honey and easy to manage hives; however increased shipping to the country brought Africanized bees to the country in the mid-1970s. The more aggressive Africanized bees forced out many of the producers and the once flourishing honey industry turned into small local outfits. Similar situations have occurred throughout the Caribbean and have forced beekeepers to either get out of the industry or adapt to the more aggressive bees. To help provide solutions to problems such as working with Africanized honey bees and other issues facing Caribbean beekeepers, the Caribbean Beekeeping Congress hold an annual conference which provides a forum for an exchange of ideas, provide scholarly works, and discussions for individuals involved in beekeeping. The Fifth Caribbean Beekeeping Congress was held in conjunction with the Guyanese Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with the Guyana Beekeeper’s Association at the International Convention Centre in Georgetown, Guyana. This year’s theme is “Promoting Organic Beekeeping in Guyana and the Caribbean through Strategic Investments.” Longtime FAVACA volunteer, Bo Sterk, presented a lecture on beekeeping in St. Vincent and one on the state of beekeeping in Haiti which called for Caribbean beekeepers to assist beekeepers in both countries. Sterk traveled to Guyana November 8-15, 2008.

EXPERTS ON SLAUGHTER HOUSE PRACTICES AND MEAT SAFETY PROVIDE TRAINING TO ABATTOIRS, AGRICULTURAL STUDENTS AND BUSINESSES IN GUYANA

First time volunteers Drs. Karen Bangert of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Sandol Johnson of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, and Aubrey Mendonca of Ames, Iowa traveled to Georgetown, Guyana May 19-June 2 to provide technical assistance and training on artificial insemination, meat safety and slaughter practices. Under the leadership and coordination of Dr. Kelvin Craig, field representative for the Partners for the Americas's Farmer to Farmer Program, the National Dairy Development Project (NDDP) benefited from the assistance provided by the FAVACA volunteers. Concerned about having Good Hygienic Practices, training for staff, improving quality and sanitation in meat production for local consumption and exportation, the NDDP received invaluable assistance on several important issues such as standard guidelines for meat production and sanitation, personal hygiene, equipment use and safety, facility cleanliness, handling animals, meat refrigeration and transport, labeling and the prevention of microbial contamination. Dr. Bangert trained twenty five technicians on the theory of artificial insemination and practical techniques for inseminating animals. Two farm helpers and twelve agricultural students were further exposed to the hands-on artificial insemination of animals. Dr. Johnson imparted training to eight staff members of the Rising Sun Abattoir and twenty students from the School of Agriculture. The participants gained knowledge and skills on slaughter house practices and meat handling techniques. In addition to collaborating with Dr. Johnson, Dr. Mendonca drafted a manual on slaughter house practices and the safe handling of meat. During the training, an additional group of ten members of the meat cutting room staff from community supermarkets was sensitized to such techniques and practices as well as four members of the local Public Health Department and City Council. Dr. Bangert is the owner and operator of the Skyview Animal Clinic since 1987 and is a Practicing Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The same year, she received the Swine Proficiency Award from the University of Missouri and began providing full service veterinarian medicine including cattle breeding services to local communities in southeast Missouri. Dr. Johnson holds a doctorial degree in Animal and Food Science from Oklahoma State University. She teaches at the Cleveland Community College in Shelby, NC and is a prolific newspaper writer on food an nutrition. Most recently, she published Slaughter and Processing of Meats. 2005, Christian Veterinary Missions, Spokane, WA, Bookmasters Publishers, Ohio. Dr. Mendonca holds a Ph.D. degree in Food Science & Technology from Iowa State University where he is currently an associate professor in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, & Interdepartmental Program in Microbiology. His research interests include the control of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in meat and poultry products and in fresh produce; Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices in meat processing.

UNIVERSITY OF GUYANA STRENGTHENS LEGAL AID PROGRAM.

Free legal advice for the indigent is very difficult to come by in Georgetown, Guyana. The students of the University of Guyana Law Society have taken the first steps to alleviating this situation with the launch of a legal advisory clinic. The clinic is staffed by students under the supervision of faculty and local attorneys. But the student leaders recognized their need for outside professional advice in running the clinic and approached the Democracy Project of Guyana’s Carter Center. Center Director Melanie Reimer contacted FAVACA. Florida State University School of Law Clinical Professor Dr. Paolo G. Annino, Tallahassee, traveled to Georgetown February 1-8, 2004. Dr. Annino directs FSU’s Children’s Advocacy Center. The clinic provides legal assistance to the community while offering students valuable hands-on experience in the legal system. Annino worked with over 40 Guyanese faculty and students on issues such as interviewing clients, giving legal advice and confidentiality. He also met with university officials to discuss the importance to law students of clinical experience and the possibility of future student exchanges.

PEANUT PRODUCTION WORKSHOP CONDUCTED IN GUYANA.

Since 1999 FAVACA has been working with several partners in Guyana and the U.S. to support the development of the peanut industry in the Rupununi District. This year’s workshop was organized jointly by the Beacon Foundation and the North Rupununi District Agricultural Producers Association for March 5-7, 2003. Along with other specialists from the University of Florida, Professor Greg MacDonald, Micanopy, made two workshop presentations on weed control at the workshop, worked with local weed specialists and diagnosed problems on local farms. Other local groups supporting the project include the National Agricultural Research Institute, the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, and USAID Guyana.

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SICKLE CELL CENTER REACHES OUT TO SICKLERS IN GUYANA.

In order to raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease Dr. Linden Swan, president, and the members of the Guyana Sickle Cell Association (GSCA) organized a series of events for an awareness week May 20-26, 2001, with the aim of promoting a more positive attitude and approach to an otherwise discouraging chronic disease process. Volunteer Corps consultant and Director of the University of Miami Sickle Cell Center Dr. Charles H. Pegelow, Miami, participated on a GSCA team of resource persons during the week. Dr. Pegelow spoke to members of the Guyana Medical Association in Georgetown, nursing students in Linden, staff nurses in New Amsterdam, and medical students at the University of Guyana. The information provided to these health care practitioners will provide them with a better understanding of sickle cell disease management. Dr. Pegelow also appeared at events aimed at the general public speaking to high school students in Georgetown and appearing on the national television program Guyana Today.


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