Aromatic rice is becoming a cost-effective and beneficial economic source commodity, and having recognised this, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is intensifying efforts to produce this variety on a larger scale through collaboration with private farmers, according to Research Scientist, Dr Mahendra Persaud.
Dr. Persaud, who is stationed at GRDB’s research station, Burma, told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that previous trials were carried out on a number of other rice varieties, but the GRDB decided to go large scale with the production of the aromatic variety.
“We are expanding the production and marketing, and it has been going well. From last season we had around 300 acres in the farmers’ fields, and this current season, harvesting is around 3,000 acres and that is, in collaboration with the millers, destined for export,” Dr Persaud explained.
The reason for exploring aromatic rice production on a larger scale is in response to the demand for specialty rice on the international market. The GRDB has recognised the tremendous financial returns that can be garnered from the exportation of the aromatic rice, the Research Scientist stated.
General Manager of the GRDB, Nizam Hassan said that, “the price being paid for specialty rice was in some cases more than 100 percent of what was being paid for regular white rice, and so that became very attractive. Prices meet as much as $1200 per ton when it’s being traded globally, so you can see, once Guyana can respond to an increasing demand for specialty rice and get the rice to be grown in larger volumes, larger acres which would mean more tons being produced, then we can tap into the appropriate markets, then we can have economic benefits for the stakeholders.”
In addition to the economic benefits attached, the agency is currently trying to make clear to the local farmers the two main attributes that generally promote the product; its nutty, popcorn flavour and aroma.
Dr. Persaud said research has been further extended to develop other aromatic rice varieties which will further expand the local rice line.
“We have a back-up programme, we have an organised breeding programme to deliver more aromatic varieties in the future because we thought it’s the way forward for the rice industry, and are providing more options to the farmers and millers and everyone,” Dr. Persaud said.
He further noted that there is hardly any change in cultivating this crop when compared to growing regular rice. “The fertilizer regime is the same, it’s almost yielding the same as other varieties in Guyana, around 38, 40, 42 (bags per acre), that the farmers have reported, and we have data to back-up, but you could get six or seven tons from the aromatic variety.”
In 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a new line of the aromatic rice variety. The product has already been presented to the international market through surveys, boosting awareness. The Government is currently at the stage of securing export markets for the rice.