Press Release – GRDB sees great promise in new candidate variety

– has potential to yield up to 60 bags per acre

As Agriculture Month 2020 continues, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), today, presented its newest candidate variety which, once given approval for release, is expected to take rice production in Guyana to the next level.

Dr. Mahendra Persaud

While making his presentation to the gathering, GRDB Chief Scientist, Dr. Mahendra Persaud, alluded to the fact that this variety stands to produce 60 plus bags per acre if good management practices are adopted.

“This is quite a high benchmark for us to achieve. It shows that the variety has the potential to perform 55 to 60 bags per acre, which is about nine tonnes per hectare. Our research has shown that it can perform and perform well. If you would’ve asked farmers 15 years ago, one would not think that rice in Guyana could yield this much. Our next job now is to sustain it not only to achieve it, but to sustain it,” Dr. Persaud said.

He further stated that the research station was able to achieve these characteristics through a number of studies and trials. The data, he added, also suggests that this candidate variety has an excellent ability to emerge from standing water.

“Rice farmers can attest that this is a very desirable characteristic because we have a challenged drainage system. Sometimes we are not able to drain the fields as early as we would like to, so the rice would have to come through standing water. We’ve seen that this candidate variety has proven well, coming through up to nine inches of water. It also has a strong plant which maintains its greenness throughout the crop and the stems are very strong so it doesn’t lodge as fast as other varieties,” Dr. Persaud said.

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha while delivering remarks expressed his satisfaction with the characteristics of the new candidate variety.

Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha

“I was just talking to my colleague and he was telling me that from looking at the plants you can see that it will achieve about 50 to 56 bags per acre or more when reaping. That is a tremendous achievement for us. I am very happy that we are in this process when we are developing varieties that can withstand the conditions in our country. This demonstration today, is a step in the right direction as we have to ensure we advance in farming. Gone are the days when we used to do farming just to sell the produce to maintain our families. Agriculture is now a trade and it is one of the most important sectors and income earners for the country. This is why Government continues to invest heavily in the agriculture sector. As a Government, we made a lot of commitments while campaigning to invest in the sector and rest assured that all those commitments will be kept by this PPP/C Government,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister added based on what was presented, it is only a matter of time before the candidate variety is adopted as an official variety in the country, and he is optimistic Cabinet will give its full support and approval for its release.

The research of GRDB’s Burma Rice Research Station has also proven that this candidate variety can also work well against the paddy bug infestation because the grains are almost at the top of the plant. This gives farmers a great opportunity, when spraying, to have effective control of the pests.

Mr. Ganga Persaud, a rice farmer who has been working with the research arm of the GRDB for many years by making his fields available for research purposes, commended the Board for its achievements.

“I recognise the efforts of Dr. Mahendra. He has done an excellent job. However, there is need for more resources to be put into research and extension. I’m saying extension because without the extension, we will not be able to share the technology. I am happy that you are here Minister. To have a Minister come and see our field, it has never happened. We would see senior officer but never the Minister. You came and you’ve left your footprints with us and we are prepared to walk in them,” Mr. Persaud said.

Dr. Persaud also pointed out that the candidate variety has the ability to withstand delayed harvesting.

“Two days ago, we were in the fields and there was water. Today, there is still water and if rain continues that will result in delayed harvesting. That has been the problem for many farmers. If we can have a variety that can withstand delayed harvesting for up to 15 days without losing grain yield or quality, that would be very good for the sector. Furthermore, our investigations indicated that this candidate variety has one of the heaviest grains. It is about eight per cent more grain density when compared to the GRDB 15.

The milling quality is as important as anything else. This candidate variety has proven that it is 58 per cent head rice recovery from paddy and it has the ability to get to 60 per cent.  In terms of what we refer to as ‘brown rice’, it is way in the late 80s (percentage) and 90 per cent is perfection because 10 per cent is basically the bran. So, it is a good opportunity for us once it is milled well and treated well,” Dr. Persaud said.

While in the Region, Minister Mustapha also met other cash crop farmers to listen to some of their concerns. He is expected to host several other meetings with farmers’ groups across the Region in the following weeks.