Farmers to cultivate bio-fortified, zinc-enriched rice in 2024

– New rice variety launched

For the first crop of 2024, farmers will be able to cultivate the new rice strain, G18-113 bio-fortified rice variety which is nutritionally rich in zinc and high-yielding, as it was officially launched on Saturday.

The event was hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal during the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips speaking at the launch of the bio-fortified rice

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips underlined that, over the years, Guyana’s rice sector has proven to be sustainable, creating jobs for rural communities, while significantly advancing the nation’s agricultural sector and food security goals. 

Annually, the government expends over $300 million on research and development to increase yields as well as output in the rice industry. This includes the introduction of the bio-fortified rice variety.

Launch of the Bio-fortified rice variety

“This rice is a good economic choice for farmers as it possesses excellent early vigour, a good plant type and high yield potential, (68 tonnes per hectare). This will contribute to the economic growth of the country through preferential prices and increased market prices,” PM Phillips stressed.

Importantly, the prime minister noted that the generic manipulation to produce this variety of rice was done using conventional breeding methods and not genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Launch of the Bio-fortified rice variety

The rice strain naturally accumulates larger levels of zinc in the grains (17–20 mg per kg of zinc).

PM Phillips noted that zinc is a necessary mineral that we need to maintain cellular and immune system activities.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha emphasised that this is a significant accomplishment, since Guyana is the only country introducing this variety in the region and Latin America.

“I hope that we can start cultivating this variety on a large-scale basis. And Guyana can start to have rice where we will have this healthy supplement. And we can improve, not only the income of our farmers, but to improve the health of our nation and the Caribbean…so that we can achieve the objective we set,” the agriculture minister highlighted.

Launch of the Bio-fortified rice variety

Minister Mustapha emphasised that this undertaking indicates that the people in the region have the expertise to develop the sector.

“Let us harness those skills and use it towards the betterment of our people and our country,” he added.

IICA’s Country Representative, Wilmot Garnett

IICA’s Country Representative, Wilmot Garnett said as a result of the trial’s success, IICA will keep funding other studies and projects related to the rice sector.

“The rice certainly has additional values of elevated levels of zinc. We want to make sure that we receive a premium…But what we are hoping is that a percentage goes to the GRDB for them to continue research,” he added.

Launch of the Bio-fortified rice variety

By 2025, it is anticipated that Guyana will produce 847,000 metric tonnes of rice.