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Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder yesterday, during the 2017 Budget debate, told the National Assembly that rice production is expected to increase by 1.3 percent in 2017.

Minister Holder explained that rice production declined during 2016 by 12.7 percent to 600,000 metric tonnes due to El Nino weather conditions. Minister Holder pointed out that a number of farmers also exited the industry due to the loss of the high priced Venezuelan market. Minister Holder explained that 3,311 hectares were lost out of the 76,717 hectares sown.

It was reported that production for 2015 was 1,058,129 tonnes which was equivalent to 687,784 tonnes. That was 80,840 tonnes or 8.27 percent higher than the production of paddy for 2014.

The research station at Burma continues to work diligently to improve rice varieties being offered to farmers, Minister Holder explained.

The Agriculture Minister stressed that to achieve an improved rice variety; the rice industry requires improved management practices, seeding rates, sowing methods and disease management.

Government is diligently employing various technologies in the effort to reduce the impact of a severe weather.

The government is pursuing diversification to specialty rice varieties, with increased emphasis on the development of value-added production such as rice/wheat flour blend, rice noodles, pasta and pre-cooked rice products for 2017.

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Farmers Connection