― Guyana’s Rice Breeding Programme among the best in the Caribbean Region
― increases remarkably demonstrate govt’s dedication to the sector
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder has said that the average rice yields in Guyana have been growing meaningfully. He made this declaration on Thursday, during his feature address to hundreds attending the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) Rice Research Station Annual ‘Open Day’.
“In 2018, farmers recorded 6 tonnes per hectare – a 5% increase from 2015 which was 5.5 tonnes per hectare, and a 37% increase from 10 years ago, which was 4.2 tonnes per hectare,” Minister Holder said.
According to the minister, such increases in the average national rice yields remarkably demonstrate the government’s dedication to the sector.
“It is due to the government’s commitment to the overall expansion of the industry and specifically to our investments in research and development. The improved agronomic practices for rice cultivation being transferred to farmers by the extension programme that works closely with the researchers are also contributing factors,” he explained.
Minister Holder said, within the last 25 years, the Rice Research Station has produced fourteen new high yielding varieties for commercial cultivation, which is a result of massive financial investments in a well-conceived and executed programme. He said some $372M is expended annually by the Guyana Rice Development’s Board to execute initiatives at the Rice Research Station.
“This represents 43% of its overall expenditure. I am proud to say that our Rice Breeding Programme is among the best in the Caribbean Region.”
Minister Holder highlighted that rice research is the avenue through which new techniques and technology are made available to the rice industry continuously to sustain its competitiveness in an ever-changing physical, financial and social environment.
Referring to farmers in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 who were recently faced by flooding due to the overtopping and in some cases breaches in the sea defence by high tides, the Agri-Minister urged all to be on the alert to assess and adjust to climate change issues. He noted that moving forward the sea defence structures will have to be augmented along with the expansion of the industry to higher ground.
“The government is committed to organising its research efforts to be better able to serve the needs of farmers and rice stakeholders. We must continue to find ways to improve our productivity and be more efficient at the farm level. Equally important is the task in hand to research innovative ways to add value to our product. Let’s continue working together,” the Agri-Minister concluded.
In Guyana, rice is an important source of livelihood. Approximately 6,020 farmers produce rice in several regions throughout Guyana. There are 43 licensed rice millers and 22 registered exporters of rice. Rice accounts for 3.3% of Guyana’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 20.5% agriculture GDP.