A bumper rice crop unlikely this year

Dear Editor,

Harvesting of the present rice crop has commenced in Region Two, where farmers are making full use of the sunny weather. It has not commenced in the central parts of the Essequibo Coast, but is moving apace in the northern and to some extent the southern sections.

In the areas where harvesting has begun farmers have reported that they are reaping an average of 20-25 bags per acre. The red rice infestation has somewhat affected the crop, so they are not optimistic that overall a bumper crop will result. Some 31,500 acres are expected to be harvested without much difficulty in this region. The analysis of farmers‘ costs for this crop indicate that many farmers would break even with their production costs at the going yield.

However, some farmers would not recover their total costs and their profit margins will be affected. These uncertainties and falling yields will alarm policy-makers in the industry with regard to the quality of paddy and whether Guyana can effectively supply the Venezuelan market. Every effort would have to be made to catch up on the shortfall in the next crop of 2012. In order to achieve this, some assistance will have to be given to farmers.

The red rice affecting the current crop is a consequence of the prolonged dry spell. In those fields affected by red rice, farmers should not use produce from the crop as seed because it will increase the red rice problem and there will be low germination and poor seedling vigour. The Ministry of Agriculture should arrange to get high quality seeds from the RPA seed bond at Anna Regina or the Burma Rice Research Station. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud should seek help from NARI and the Burma Research Station to combat the red rice infestation in the future. Considering the nature of the current situation, it will be necessary to lobby these agencies to protect the interest of our rice farmers.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khan