“All areas being explored to save paddy,” Min. Mustapha assures Windsor Forest farmers
– as inclement weather continues to delay harvesting
On Thursday afternoon, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha returned to Windsor Forest on the West Coast of Demerara to meet with rice farmers to discuss issues faced within the region as it pertains to the ongoing harvesting period.
The farmers met with His Excellency, President Dr. Irfaan Ali last Tuesday seeking assistance with harvesting the remainder of their paddy. The farmers told the head of state that as a result of the inclement weather over the past few days, their combines have been unable to access their fields which has resulted in some of their paddy passing the specified harvesting period.
While meeting with the farmers at the Windsor Forest Community Centre Ground, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that the government was committed to increasing rice production and that no effort would be spared to assist them with harvesting the remaining paddy in the region, which is estimated to be some 5,000 acres.
He explained that since the visit by President Ali, extension staff from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) have conducted a survey to determine the average yield harvested so far and what was left to be harvested and urged the farmers to wait until the assessment is complete to determine the losses.
“According to this survey, when some farmers attempted to harvest the paddy, they found that the fields were a bit soft but if the weather holds a little, you will be able to harvest in a few days. We cannot anticipate and predict the losses. Let us wait and see what happens over the coming days. Based on the average yield harvested so far for the entire cultivation in the Region; if farmers cannot reach that average then we will be able to determine the losses. The remaining paddy; and I agree with you that you will experience losses because the paddy has over-run; we will see what assistance can be given. More than likely this will be in the form of seed paddy because we cannot give you cash,” Minister Mustapha explained.
The subject minister maintained that both the government and the farmers have a vested interest in the sector and pledged the government’s continued support towards its development.
“We all have one objective and that is to ensure we have maximum production. When farmers have maximum production, the country benefits. As Minister of Agriculture, I would like to see an increase in rice production. I have been engaging our officers from the GRDB, telling them that they are to work with every farmer for the coming crop to ensure every inch of land is cultivated because we want to ramp up production. We also want farmers’ cost of production to be lowered and yields to increase. This is why we continue to make more budgetary allocations available within the agriculture sector,” he noted.
Minister Mustapha also visited some of the affected fields to get a firsthand look at the affected plots. After examining some of the affected fields, he told the farmers that extension officers from the GRDB will be conducting daily assessments of each field and submitting a report on their findings.
Minister Mustapha was accompanied by M.o.A Director General and Chairman of the GRDB Board of Directors, Madanlall Ramraj; GRDB’s General Manager, Badrie Persaud; GRDB’s Deputy General Manager, Kuldip Ragnauth, GLDA’s CEO (ag) Dr. Dwight Waldron and other regional and ministry officials.