Development of Sustainable Peanut Production Technologies for Amerindian Villages in the Rupununi Region of Guyana
University of Florida
The Rupununi region of Guyana contains 22,313 square miles (27% of the total land area of Guyana) of mostly undeveloped land. Nearly 99% of the population is composed of indigenous people surviving on a subsistence basis. One of the few cash crops in the region is peanut. Amerindian farmers in the region presently produce over 70% of peanuts grown in the country. The crop is important to these indigenous people in social, economic and environmental terms. Economic: Peanut is the only crop marketed by regional farmers to produce any significant amount of cash income to meet health, education, clothing and other basic family financial needs. Other crops of a more perishable nature are difficult to market due to remoteness and poor condition of farm to market roads. Farmers in the region produced over 800,000 lbs. of peanuts in 1979, but this production has steadily declined over the years to a production well under 300,000 lbs. in 1999. The development and subsequent adoption of appropriate technology has not been forthcoming leading to a decline in production. For example, no labor saving devices, improved varieties, or farm inputs have been tested or implemented in the region for over 30 years.
Social: Peanut is the only crop that can contribute towards reduction of widespread poverty in the region. It is valuable not only as a source of much needed income but for local consumption. The high protein of peanut is essential and complementary to the common carbohydrate diet based on cassava. Additionally, improvement in peanut production technology will create jobs and help stem the flow of young people out of the region.
Environment: Lack of technology is contributing to the destruction of the rainforest, particularly in the South Rupununi. Peanut growers traditionally practice slash and burn as a survival technique to desperately produce their only source of cash income. Adequate land, most previously farmed, is available that could limit slash and burn practices but only after development and implementation of appropriate production technology