– Ramsammy says 600,000 tonnes is real possibility
With the first rice crop for this year exceeding 300,000 tonnes, Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy is projecting that this year’s total production could top 600,000 tonnes.
Making the announcement yesterday during the launch of Agricultural Science, as a Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subject, Ramsammy called the achievement historic.
According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Ramsammy recalled that 10 years ago the idea that the country could produce 500,000 tonnes by 2020 was regarded as impossible. However, he said that it was achieved more than five years early when 535,000 tonnes of rice were produced in 2013.
“600,000 tonnes in 2014 is a real possibility,” he was quoted as saying by GINA, while noting that half of the figure had already been achieved and there was enough time to achieve the other half.
GINA said the minister attributed the increased production to science and technology that have transformed the rice sector in Guyana. He also predicted that science and technology will also transform entire the agriculture industry, it added.
The sum of $500 million has been set aside in this year’s budget to help maintain the industry’s competitiveness, GINA noted, while claiming that the investment is the result of government’s recognition of the need to maintain the strong performance of the industry.
The trend over the last few years has been one of increasing rice production, GINA said, while noting that it was in 2011 that for the first time the industry surpassed the 400,000-tonne mark. It subsequently repeated this achievement in 2012 and 2013.
“It is expected to someday overcome the barrier which will bring Guyana in line with the world’s largest producers of rice. As such focus is being placed on exploring new and emerging global markets, tackling the crucial and critical issue to facilitate increasing production,” it further said.
According to GINA, secure drainage, new and improved farming technologies and new rice varieties are among some of the interventions over the years that have been fuelling the rice industry’s growth. It further noted that government has also moved to secure several markets for rice farmers, the largest being with Venezuela.