Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder believes that the new varieties of rice released to farmers countrywide earlier this year will contribute significantly to improving the productivity of the commodity over the next few years.
Minister Holder, whorecently briefed the media on his Ministry’s performance and achievements since the coalition government was elected to office, advised that it is foreseen that the (Guyana Rice Development Board) GRDB 12, GRDB 13 and GRDB 14 will continue to expand in acreages in 2016.
Meanwhile, Minister Holder reported that the GRDB will be implementing a proactive programme to manage ‘red rice’. Similarly comprehensive studies will be done on the paddy bug menace and its management, aimed at reducing losses.
The Ministry is expected to access atleast 500 varieties of paddy from international research institutes and centers in 2016.
During 2015, the rice industry continued to perform favourably despite marketing challenges.As at December 16, 2015, paddy production was 1,051,563 tonnes, equivalent to 683,516 tonnes of rice. This figure was 48,278 tonnes or 7.60% higher than the production of paddy and rice for the entire 2014. In 2014, 977, 289 tonnes of paddy equivalent to 635,238 tonnes of rice were produced.
For the period January -December 16, 2015 exports stood at 510,807 tonnes compared with 501,208 tonnes for 2014.
Despite the increase in the volume of exports for this period, the value was 15 % lower than the 2014 value. For the period January up to December 16, 2015, the value of the exports was US $ 211,834,746 compared to US$ 249,504,955 for 2014.
In the areas of research capacity, both the GRDB 14 variety and the aromatic varietywere released,along with its production package for commercial cultivation by farmers in Spring 2015.
Nineteen (19) advanced breeding lines are currently being tested in advanced yield trials in four locations across the country. These candidate varieties will be tested in farmers’ fields, and if found suitable, will be released.
Sixty five (65)advanced breeding lines are currently being tested at the Research Station at Burma. Each season, over 4,000 breeding lines are studied by the team at the Rice Research Station.
The Extension arm of the GRDB continues to give support to local farmers countrywide in areas of best practices, problem solving, management and decision extension officers were exposed to training in paddy bug management, cost of production, extension communication, organisation, leadership and management, seed improvement and weight determination at mills.
With regard the Farmers Field Schools, 58 such exercises were conducted in 2015, where farmers were exposed to best practices. Ten (10) were held in Region 2; 16 in Region 3; 2 in Region 4; 16 in Region 5 and 14 in Region 6.
With respect to quality control, 57 mills have been licencedas of November 2015 and 101 licenced graders are at present operating at mills countrywide.