Guyana’s rice industry continues to demonstrate its resilience to the many challenges the sector continues to face and has recorded 90% of its targeted production for the second crop, which is also referred to as the autumn crop.
General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan, made this disclosure during a recent interview which he lauded the efforts of farmers, and the extension officers in ensuring that the industry prevails amidst ever-growing challenges.
“We were able to cultivate 80,000 hectares of farmlands. For the first crop, we achieved 99% of our targeted production. The shortfall in our production target for this crop was due to the early arrival of the rain in April. These rains not only affected the harvesting in the first crop, but also affected land preparation and production of the second crop of 2018.” Hassan explained.
During his 2018 mid-year review to Parliament, Finance Minister Winston Jordan noted the despite the reduction in rice production for the first half of 2018, the industry demonstrated promising signs.
“Notwithstanding a contraction of 3.8% in 2018, yields have risen to 5.9 tonnes per hectare. Yields are expected to grow further in the second half of 2018, in light of the release of a higher yielding variety – GRDB15 – by the Guyana Rice Development Board in April.” Minister Jordan said.
In fact, farmers who have planted this variety are expected to harvest as much as 8 tonnes per hectare, if recommended practices outlined by the Extension Staff are adhered to.
Even with this shortfall in production, the General Manager revealed that Guyana recorded a 43% increase in export volume for the period January to June 2018 when compared the corresponding period in 2017, and 15% increase in exports for the period January to July 2018 when compared to the same period for the previous year.
In 2018, for the period of January to July, Guyana exported 312,593 tonnes of paddy, rice and rice products while only 271,740 tonnes were exported in for the same period in the previous year. This increase in exports earned Guyana approximately US$120M or GY $24.6B. This represents a 20% increase in revenue earnings.
Hassan also disclosed that GRDB export figures to Latin American countries also reflected an increase for the first half of 2018.
“With regards to the performance of our individual blocks, our exports have been 80% more to Latin America with countries like Haiti, Colombia, Panama and Mexico really standing out. In fact, when we look at Panama for the January to July 2018 period, we’ve hit 7886 tonnes compared to 5310 tonnes in 2017.” Hassan said.
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder has lauded the efforts of Guyana’s rice farmers in ensuring continued success of the industry, noting that they continue to express commitment to the sector’s growth and development. He also urged farmers to engage the Rice Board and follow best practices to ensure maximum production and productivity is achieved.
According to the subject Minister, while Government has been implementing key policy initiatives to ensure the industry prevails, it is necessary for all players within the industry to play their part.
“We have been doing exceptionally well when it comes to production and productivity, we have been doing well also in the areas of markets- to the benefit of our millers and farmers as a whole…but while there are successes, our research station continues to work behind the scenes to avert any losses.” Holder said.
Minister Holder was at the time making reference to the recent incident regard paddy weevil. According to the Minister while it is necessary to ensure accountability of our extension team, it is also key for farmers to listen to the advice of the officers.
“What we continue to record across the rice growing regions are instances where farmers refuse to listen to the advice of our extension officers. These officers are here to assist you and if we work together, we can record even greater progress,” Holder reiterated.