Vast growth in agri-sector expected

Min. Holder tells Black Bush Polder farmers

DPI Guyana, Sunday, November 9, 2019

The farming community of Zambia, Black Bush Polder, East Berbice-Corentyne has been assured that the administration will be channelling more resources into further developing the agriculture sector.

The assurance came during a community engagement held by Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Noel Holder and a team on Friday, November 8. The Agri-Minister noted that as funds become available in the new year, the sector will grow exponentially.

His observations came on the heels of the members of the community agreeing that the industry is performing much better than it was several years ago, especially the rice sector. According to Minister Holder, rice production has increased as did the price and Black Bush Polder is seeing the highest yields from their crops averaging around 46 bags per acre as compared to between 36-40 elsewhere.

According to the General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan, the country exported 423,000 tonnes of rice and rice products valued at $37.3 Billion (US$177M) from January to the end of October 2019, compared to 409,436 tons valued at $33.5Billion (US$160M) for the corresponding period in 2018. He noted, so far for the current crop, which is 95 % harvested, over one million tons of paddy have been produced signalling that export value has risen and will continue to grow.

These figures, he continued, are phenomenal given the paddy bug infestations that plagued farmers earlier in the year. The use of pesticides reduced the infestation.

Among the concerns raised by farmers is the resuscitation of the seed paddy facility in Black Bush Polder, which has been under the control of the Rice Producers Association (RPA) since its construction several years ago. The farmers noted that the facility is in a deplorable state and never served the purpose for which it was constructed. The farmers indicated that they are seeking the government’s intervention to have it rehabilitated.

In response, Minister Holder noted that the RPA would have to hand over the facility to the GRDB. He suggested that the farmers initiate the process as early as possible.

There were also calls for the government to ensure that pesticides and other drugs on the local market meet international standards.

The minister explained that every effort is being made to control this situation, and advised farmers to make use of the recently re-commissioned $320M Pesticides and Toxic Chemical Control Laboratory at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) Compound, Mon Repos; which was primarily modernised to serve this purpose.

The meeting concluded after the participants were satisfied with their concerns and issues being adequately addressed.

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