FAO donates $3M data collection equipment to GRDB aimed at strengthening monitoring systems

Today the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) received several pieces of equipment and operational manuals that will be used to improve its data collection and extension capabilities.

These pieces of equipment, which were donated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as part of a project aimed at strengthening Guyana’s rice production monitoring system, included 30 tablets, 10 of which were handed over in April of this year, tablet cases, a server, a backup battery, external hard drives and data entry software tools.

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

The equipment is valued at over GY $3 million and will enable the GRDB’s extension staff to transmit real-time data from the field to the office.

While speaking at the handing over exercise, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said that the tablets and equipment that were donated will assist the GRDB to ensure reliable data collection.

Minister Mustapha (second left) receives some of FAO Country Rep. Dr. Gillian Smith in the presence of other GRDB officials

“Agriculture is one of the most important pillars in our government’s plan for prosperity, with rice being a major part of our strategic focus to improve the sector. As the world advances, we too must advance. The introduction of technology into our extension services has been widely been touted by our government because we understand the importance of introducing new technologies to our daily operations. These tablets and equipment will help our extension officers to have reliable data collection and help us to modernize our entire extension system. Data and statistics are very important when making informed decisions and these tablets will help us to increase the Board’s efficiency, data collection management and strengthen our extension services,” Minister Mustapha said.

FAO Country Representative, Dr. Gillian Smith said the project was aimed at strengthening the monitoring systems for gathering and assessing production data of rice of the GRDB.

One of GRDB’s technical officers explaining how the process works to Minister Zulfikar Mustapha

“We’re happy to collaborate with you by bringing this technical assistance in this project that we’ve done aimed at strengthening the monitoring systems for gathering and assessing production data of rice and also to support you and systematically analyze the opportunities that exist in the rice value chain, particularly value-added products. Already in operation, this upgraded data collection system facilitates real-time data collection and transmission of data from the field, reduces the time needed to crunch the numbers, and the probability of introducing human typo errors. It also creates faster, more accurate and comprehensive reports that support planning, faster corrective actions and decision and policymaking. This is digitalized data management, which can ultimately be expanded to other uses within GRDB,” Dr. Smith said. 

Some of the equipment that were donated

Since taking office the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, was able to use improved technology to develop and release a new variety of rice to the market. The GRDB-16, which was released in October 2020, has the ability to produce up to 60 bags per acre if good farming practices are adopted. Furthermore, the Board has been working with IICA on a Zinc-infused biofortified variety of rice which is expected to be released for field trials sometime next year. This variety, once released for large-scale cultivation, is expected to attract preferential prices given its nutritional properties.