—despite Coronavirus pandemic
The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is confident of excellent rice production this year despite the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, GRDB’s General Manager, Nizam Hassan, disclosed that all quality assurance services continue to operate as usual since rice exportation is ongoing.
Speaking to DPI, Hassan said with the expected production his agency is confident that there will be adequate supplies for local, regional, and extra-regional markets.
“We don’t expect that there will be any fallbacks from our projections, and for this year just as we had done last year, we expect that we will get over 1 million tonnes of paddy, which will be equivalent to approximately 700,000 tonnes rice.
“We have already harvested over 50 percent of the crop, and the yields are just over 6 tonnes per hectare, a point one percent more than Guyana’s national average in 2019,” Hassan said.
However, he noted that due to the current disease outbreak globally, there have been setbacks in exporting rice to some European countries including Italy and France. But that has been offset by a 40 percent increase in exports to Latin American countries.
“This was primarily because of the jump in our exports to Venezuela.”
“While there have been fallouts in some of the markets and some of it is linked to COVID-19, other markets are relatively stable,” the General Manager stated.
Now that most agencies are working remotely and fewer hours daily, rice millers and exporters are encouraged to inform GRDB a few days in advance about the processing of their documents.
GRDB has implemented several measures to help in stopping the spread of the virus.
Hassan explained that experiments at the Burma Rice Research Station are closing off since the crop is at the harvesting stage and most of the work currently ongoing is data gathered to be analysed.
The agency’s extension services continue to operate strictly on an on-call and rotational basis.
Extension officers liaise with farmers as the need arises, to obtain harvesting data, monitor for paddy bugs and advise farmers accordingly.
Hand sanitisers have also been placed at entry points of the GRDB office, and the World Health Organization’s advisories are up at strategic locations where staff and visitors could see them.