Yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha met a team of senior officials from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Chief Executive Officer of Nand Persaud and Company Limited, Mohindra Persaud to discuss the status of the current rice crop in Region Six.

During their discussion, Persaud said the crop was progressing well, but the inclement weather, among other things, has resulted in high levels of ‘damaged grain’.

“This crop, the damages keep going up every day. The reason for that is the rain is falling inconsistently. The workers are not cooperating fully with the farmers and the work is getting harder in some instances. The report that comes out about damaged grains is not necessarily true. We get much more damage than that. One of the things people have to understand is when you harvest paddy, the combine equips itself to remove a lot of damaged grains. Using our lab to determine the amount of damage grain doesn’t reflect how much the industry has – it’s to show how much we have on record for our purposes,” Persaud said.

GRDB’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Mahendra Persaud explained that their reports do not represent an exact number but rather a reference number.

“Whatever we report as damage, it isn’t an absolute number. It’s a reference number that is higher because you keep removing from the field and that is standard for all rice fields. In terms of determining the damaged grain ratio, we do it in a more detailed way in terms of our analysis. We take samples in the field and then the entomologist would boil them in sodium hydroxide. That makes the shell transparent so you would then be able to see the damage through the shell easily,” he said.

Minister Mustapha said that for GRDB’s reports to reflect the true number of damaged grains farmers and millers are experiencing, the research arm of the Board needs to increase its sample collection. He also instructed that GRDB intensify its data collection activities for the second crop of 2021.

“We have to start doing more of these analyses because those things affect the farmers and the production figures. So, I want the GRDB to start doing these studies regionally. Bring the extension arm up to date and trained to carry out these exercises. I want you to develop a programme and commence these exercises for the upcoming crop,” Minister Mustapha said.

He also said the Ministry, through the GRDB will continue to work with farmers and millers to implement better systems at every stage of the crop. The Minister added that with the Government looking to double rice production by 2025, more emphasis will be placed on extension services, opening more lands, improving drainage and irrigation, and securing more lucrative markets for rice.

Minister Mustapha also advised the rice farmers to use the available infrastructure with care during the harvesting period given the inclement weather.

“I know that reaping is currently at 50 percent, but I want to urge our farmers to use these dams with some amount of discretion. We are currently experiencing a high intensity of rainfall and traversing these dams with heavy machinery will cause some amount of damage. Last year we spent millions of dollars to rehabilitate all of the dams and we will continue to do so but I want to appeal to farmers to be mindful when transporting their paddy from the fields,” he said. (Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information)


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