Govt to support rice expansion with $1.3B this year

The government is expected to continue it’s support for Guyana’s rice industry,  through the Guyana Development Board (GRDB), with an injection of $1.3B this year into the productive sector.  

This was highlighted by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh during his 2024 budget presentation in the National Assembly at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), on Monday.

Senior Minister within the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, presenting at the 2024 National Budget on Monday

Minister Singh explained that the aim is to expand and develop the rice industry, while introducing new high-yielding varieties and providing adequate support for improved drainage and irrigation systems, among other things.

“In 2024, we will continue to invest in the improvement of the quality and quantity of seed paddy available to the rice farmers. We will provide enhanced best practices in the cultivation of paddy. We will continue to research and develop high-yielding varieties with good milling and cooking qualities and varieties that are both salt-tolerant and resistant to major rice diseases,” the senior minister stressed.

Dr Singh stated too that the government will evaluate the new G14-10 high-yielding rice variety in farmers’ fields in 2024.

Last year, the rice sector was estimated to expand by seven per cent. The GRDB reported a total rice production of 653,706 tonnes for 2023, above 610,595 tonnes in 2022.

“This performance can be largely attributed to better yields, which improved from 5.9 tonnes per hectare in 2022 to an estimated 6.3 tonnes per hectare in 2023,” Minister Singh reported.

Guyana earned approximately $45.2 billion in exports in 2023, over $3 billion more than in 2022.

Due to Guyana’s groundbreaking research work with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the zinc-enriched rice – GRDB IICA-17 variety was launched in October 2023.

For the first crop of 2024, the new rice variety will be cultivated by farmers. 

This will be a noteworthy accomplishment since Guyana is the only country in the region and Latin America to introduce this variety.

Meanwhile, the construction of drying floors in Cotton Tree in Region Five and Hague in Region Three is currently underway. Eight drying floors have been built across the country in the last three years.

The Black Bush Polder seed processing facility in Region Six which was made operable in 2023 will produce close to 6,000 bags of paddy for approximately 600 farmers.

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

Over the years, the rice sector has proven to be sustainable, generating jobs for rural communities while making substantial progress toward the country’s agricultural sector and food security objectives.