Guyana’s rice industry continues to hold strong inspite of the challenges facing rice farmers across the country. harvesting of the first crop of 2017 has been completed and the figures are in – it shows an industry that is resilient and a rice farming community that continues to produce in ever increasing quantities despite hardships relative to cost of production and price paid to them per bag of paddy.
End of Crop figures provided by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) showed that farmers harvested a total of 89,290 hectares or 23% over the first crop 2016 resulting in a paddy production of 518,667 metric tonnes of paddy – 26 percent more than for the same period last year.
General manager ag. of the GRDB ms Allison Peters was upbeat about the performance of the local rice industry.
“So you see the first crop figures have been better despite all that have occurred in the industry. farmers are resilient…additionally, from Paddy supplied to millers across the rice-growing regions, a total of 337, 133 metric tonnes of rice was produced. This is a 26 percent increase over last year’s first crop figures,” Peters said.
However, while there have been increases in production, the rice board have been grappling with a decrease in exports of rice and paddy for the first four months of the year. This is as a result of exports to the Panama market for the 1st. crop not being realized. For the first crop 2017, exports amounted to 239,442 metric tonnes, some 60,000 tonnes less that for the same period last year. Foreign exchange earnings from the export of rice and paddy amounted to 92,026, million us dollars.
Ms Peters noted that while the exports were significantly less than for the corresponding period last year the comparative value of the exports were not much different.
“We did notice that the prices in 2017 first quarter were higher than those we got in 2017; specifically for the packaged rice; a lot of packaged rice were exported for the first quarter, a large portion of this was exported to Venezuela, Ms. Peters said.
“Only last month we had over 4000 tonnes of white rice exported to Venezuela by private exporters”, she added.
The GRDB officials is upbeat that once the international prices continue to hold or increase, Guyana’s earnings from the exports of rice and paddy for the second crop can very well make up for the shortfall realised in the first crop.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) says exports to Panama began earlier this month and is expected to continue for the rest of the year.
Commenting on the production effort of Guyana’s rice farmers for this first crop, the General manager, ag. was loud in her praise of the improvements reported in terms yield and the quality of paddy supplied to millers.
“Our extension officers have been in the field working with our farmers, ensuring that as far as possible they continue to incorporate the six agronomic practices that have been proven to increase all aspects of production and productivity” she said.”
Ms. Peters also disclosed that because of these improved farming practices some farmers have been reporting yields of up to 60 bags per acre’. She said that overall, guyana’s national yield per acre has moved from 35 bags to 37.5 this last crop. Adding that this upward trend will only continue as more farmers adopt the six point plan and monitor their crops closely from start to finish.
Agriculture Minister, Hon. Noel Holder in an invited comment spoke of some of the successes the Ministry continues to record due to the incorporation of the six-point system in rice cultivation, noting that it has resulted in a movement in the national average yield per acre from 35 to 37 bags per acre.
“The survival of our rice farmers and the industry as a whole hinges on farmers realizing higher yields per acre as only in this way will they be able to cushion the increasing cost of production and remain viable.” The minister said. .
The issue of Paddy Bug
The Minister, however, cautioned that while there have been reports of farmers suffering as a result of paddy bug infestation, farmers and millers have indicated a significant reduction when compared to other crops.
The Minister has echoed a call for all players to work together in the best interest of the industry and the country as a whole.
He lauded the efforts of Guyana’s rice farmers across Guyana for their hard work for this first crop, urging them to put their shoulders to the wheel in making the second crop this year a record breaking one.
Because of their hard labour in the face of mounting hardships rice farmers earned approximately 17billion Guyana dollars from the sale of paddy to millers.
The focus for the Rice Board is now on preparations for the second crop of 2017. The GRDB has projected a second crop target of 85,021 hectares to be sown. To aid farmers in their preparations for this crop, the GRDB have commenced issuing fertilizer to farmers on credit – the provision of quality seed paddy is also being assured.