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Highway farmer grows food where soil is no good

Highway farmer grows food where soil is no good
December 12, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News 

Vivian Fredericks started to do hydroponics farming with celery. He built a greenhouse complete with Ultraviolet plastic and water containers and sawdust.
He planted 1,000 celery plants in the boxes and water containers and gave them the nutrients as stated in the book and in the video show on hydroponics that he saw and was well pleased with his efforts.
Then he got a shocker: within three days every one of his one thousand celery plants had died. That was a year ago.
But last week, Fredericks who is based at Hauraruni on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, proudly disclosed that he had bounced back from that disaster; had  built another greenhouse bringing the number  up to two and was planning to build 22 more.
Fredericks is the Chairman of the Hauraruni Friendly Farmers Society, at the Full Gospel Fellowship community located thirty six miles away from Georgetown.
The group intends to grow more greens and vegetables hydroponically and sell to the community and to supermarkets in Georgetown and to export.
Talking about his bounce back from disaster, Fredericks, the now successful hydroponics man explained: “You got a lot of people who feel that with all the land we got in Guyana there is no need for hydroponics.
“What these people need to understand is that not all the lands good for agriculture. On the highway, here for instance, is white sand. They got a lot of leaching of the top soil going on; the sand don’t retain moisture; it very poor in nutrients.
“I see people spend a lot of money buying manure to spread on this sand to do agriculture. They get a crop then they got to bring in more manure, buy again and pay for labour to spread it:  very expensive. But not with hydroponics.”
He stressed: “Hydroponics is the best choice for all farmers on this Highway. It’s cheap; farmers in full control; no weeding; full temperature control; you get to feed the plant and control how it grows,” he said.
He added: “You get better quality food because with your greenhouse, you don’t have animals and other pests roaming all over your farm.”
“But you gotta know what you doing,” he added with a rueful smile as he remembered the outcome of his first attempt at hydroponics.
The hydroponic method is being promoted by the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA) and Fredericks learnt of the system during a seminar held by the Institute in Georgetown early last year.
Fredericks got handouts and saw a video show and then returned to Hauraruni full of confidence and enthusiasm and then messed up. “A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. It was not until I take my sad story to Georgetown and the IICA people came up that I realise my mistakes. I get back into it with encouragement from IICA. I know much more now and we here at Hauraruni gearing to go fully into hydroponics.
“It is the best option for agricultural production in this area.”
IICA representative, Jermaine Joseph, who was present at the greenhouse amidst the towering cakaralli trees at Hauraruni last week, assured Fredericks of the ongoing support of the Institute.
So also did Jermaine Jeffrey of the Guyana Forum for Youth in Agriculture (GFYA) another visitor.
Joseph disclosed that IICA had been helpful in obtaining support for Hauraruni hydroponics from other agencies such as Partners of the Americas and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and will continue to do so. Leaders of the Hauraruni group are: Fredericks, Chairman, Mohan Pillay, Vice-Chairman; Jagat Jacobs, Secretary; Madhai Pillay, Treasurer; Cassandra Pillay. Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer and Audrey Alexander, Assistant Treasurer.

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