The paddy bug infestation is under control and will not have a significant impact on rice yields, according to Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) officials.
“The only area still with levels of paddy bug infestation is the Hogstye- Borlam area in Berbice, Corentyne and that is because those farmers went very late into the crop and that had to do with the water, the problem with irrigation water they had in order to make that start”, said entomologist Vivian Baharally.
She told reporters at a press briefing at the GRDB’s office in Cowan Street yesterday that every other area is in the process of harvesting now. While she could not give an exact figure of how much rice lands were affected by the paddy bugs, she said that the harvest from those areas would not be lost. “It will not have a significant impact on the yield but it will have an impact on the quality”, she said.
Dr. Mahendra Persaud, a Research Scientist at the Burma Rice Research Station said that the paddy bug is no stranger to these shores and not a season has gone by without some level of infestation. However, he said, of the past ten seasons, this season has seen a higher level of damage by the paddy bug. He said that generally the damage is more severe to crops planted late and following the El Nino experienced this season, it was an ideal situation for the paddy bugs to multiply. The same had occurred when the country experienced the last El Nino, he recalled.
He said that in late March, the population of paddy bugs escalated and the GRDB and the Agriculture Ministry responded. He said that they still noticed an increase as the season progressed and financial support was given to farmers by providing chemicals to control the bug, free of cost to farmers. He said Regions Four, Five and Six were the hardest hit areas. According to Persaud, the exercise was fruitful and a reduction in paddy bug damage was seen. He said that harvesting has now seen a reduction in the damage done. He said that the GRDB generally looks every season to monitor the paddy bug population and make farmers aware of Integrated Pest Management programmes to manage the pest.
Meantime, Baharally pointed out that the paddy bug has a short life cycle but a high reproduction rate. She said it is important that farmers stick to block planting. Field sanitation is also vital.
More than 10,000 acres of rice had already been lost to paddy bug infestation and surveys of affected areas showed a poor level of sanitation in and around rice fields and staggered sowing dates, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud had told this newspaper. In April, high levels of paddy bug infestation were recorded in Regions 4, 5 and 6. Subsequent monitoring of the situation revealed a second migration into fields.
The agriculture ministry had procured and distributed an insecticide (Pronto) for immediate application. In Region 6, monitoring after the distribution of the insecticide showed that control was achieved in Black Bush Polder and the Upper Corentyne. However, in the Hogstye-Borlam area, a high infestation was still evident and a second application of Pronto was immediately done. Farmers in the area were advised to spray promptly and together in order to reduce the chances of migration of the bugs. Daily monitoring was also encouraged, Persaud had said.
He added that “the Hogstye-Borlam area remains susceptible to paddy bug attack since it was the last area in the region to be sown and possesses staggered growth stages. To date, the crop has about one month more to reach maturity, while all other areas are concluding with harvesting. This situation presents a continuous supply of food for the bugs. The average paddy bug damage recorded in the region so far is 12%.”
General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers’ Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj had told this newspaper that 5 to 6 thousand acres was affected in Region 5 and 6 to 7 thousand acres in Region 6. Yields for the first crop have already been estimated and there had been no significant decrease, Seeraj had said.