For some farmers in D’Edwards Village, East Bank Berbice, 2017 might have gone something like
this—they planted sweet pepper, and the crop is destroyed by pests. Months of extreme rainfall mean
that they can’t plant anything else.
When they finally plant another crop, it’s destroyed by drought. After backbreaking labour, they are still
broke, or worst, in serious debt.
Fast forward to 2019, these same farmers are harvesting their crops year-round and are looking to
supply supermarkets continuously, all thanks to the implementation of shade houses—a simple
structure that can sit on a small area of a farm and provide regular crops which guarantees year-round
income if everything else goes wrong.
The shade houses are used to protect cultivated plants from excessive heat, light and dryness.
In late 2018, the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) provided training to a
group of farmers on the benefits of shaded agriculture. Five farmers were identified and the institute,
aided by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) assisted in the construction of five shade houses.
The farmers identified the crops they wanted to experiment with and NAREI’s technical officers guided
them on a weekly basis until the produce was ready to be harvested.
Yesterday, the institute’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Oudho Homenauth visited the farmers to
find out their experience with the shade houses and whether they plan to continue practicing shaded
The response was beyond what was expected. Dr. Homenauth was told that production was higher than
what the open field produces, especially for leafy vegetables like cabbages and pak choi. In fact, one
farmer, Bisram Evans planted most of his cash crops under a shade house.
Evans told the CEO and a group of farmers who had gathered for a meeting that since he was introduced
to the shade house, he has not experienced any flooding or damaged crops due to pest or drought.
Under his shade house, he intercrops with celery, pak choi and bell pepper. This is about quarter of an
His peppers are harvested after two months and according to Evans, he reaps about eight pounds from
one plant. The market value for the pepper is $300 per pound. So if he plants 100 plants, the farmer can
make $240,000 every two months. The value for the other crops he used for intercropping is not
included in this amount.
Having witnessed the success Evans had with the shade house, 10 other farmers have expressed their
interest in introducing the shade house to mitigate climate change. To expand this method of
cultivation, NAREI will be supplying two rolls of plastic and one roll of net to the farmers.
With the availability of the materials, the farmers have promised to construct their individual shade
house in a month.
Constructing a shade house requires mesh, plastic, wood and PVC pipes (for the automated sprinkler
system). The sprinklers are not necessary.
Generally, the beds are either raised or in the ground. The cost of investment depends on the size of the