Guyana must play an integral role in meeting global rice demands – Minister Holder
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, October 11, 2017
In order for rice production to improve throughout the country, better farming practices must be adopted. These were the sentiments of senior agriculture officials who attended Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) Open Day activities, held at the GRDB’s research station at Burma, Mahaicony.
This is one of a series of activities coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture in observance of Agriculture Month 2017. Students from secondary and tertiary learning institutions, rice farmers and millers all participated in the event which showcased farmers’ tools, treatment methods and other best practices for planters to follow when cultivating rice.
Exhibitors at the open day were closely engaged with curious students and farmers who were all interested in learning about the ideal plant management methods as it relates to rice cultivation.
At the formal opening ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder said that the consumption of rice worldwide is increasing, therefore, there is a high demand for rice and its by-products.
“Looking globally, rice is consumed by over 3.5 billion people and is viewed as a major pillar for food security and an engine for poverty reduction … the demand for rice will outstrip supply if production does not increase faster than its current rate,” Minister Holder pointed out.
He added that this means Guyana must play an integral role in meeting the demand and as such rice varieties must have higher yield potential while better crop management techniques are to be enforced.
While focusing on the theme for agriculture month, the minister pointed out that the local rice industry has made significant progress but continues to suffer from the effects of climate change. “In a world where the impact of climate change is a major challenge to production, we must have plans in place to ensure the effects of climate change does not deter the progress made,” he explained.
Meanwhile, General Manager (ag) of the GRDB, Allison Peters recognised the work of all key players in the rice industry. More specifically Peters acknowledged women farmers and gave kudos to millers who continue to work with farmers to ensure they receive a good price for paddy.
The GRDB continues to work with exporters to expand the market base for Guyana’s rice. For this year’s autumn crop, farmers are receiving increased prices ranging from $36,912 to $50,754 per metric tonne which works out to $2,400 to $3,300 per bag of paddy.
The Burma Rice Research Station continues to partner with international organisations to develop technologies which can improve the productivity of the rice industry. Minister Holder said 600 new germplasm or rice lines is expected from overseas. These rice lines will contribute to the formation of the National Rice Germplasm Bank (NRGB).
Dr. Mahendra Persuad, Chief Scientist at the rice research station outlined that in addition to the NRGB, farmers can expect better rice varieties in the near future. “We have good options and other varieties that we need farmers to look at carefully and if there is any need for more assistance in terms of demonstrating how it can perform we are willing to conduct more trials in the farmers’ fields.”
By: Delicia Haynes