The ignorance which prevails concerning the rice industry of this country is every now and again made manifest by the Minister of Agriculture and the General Manager of Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), more especially in terms of the pricing of farmers’ paddy. They themselves claim to be authentically informed as to the real position of the industry, which is under the control of the rice millers. In a recent letter I remarked that a run of low prices will not stimulate growth in the rice industry, which needs to move with the times, and not lag behind scientific developments.
It should be the intention of the GRDB and the Ministry of Agriculture to review what has been done and what has been spent by the farmers in Guyana within the last two decades to keep themselves acquainted with scientific discoveries.
They can review the various rice mills engaged in buying farmers’ paddy, the price the farmers are given and how long they take to pay them for their produce. After all, the millers dominate the industry. For many decades the ministry and the GRDB were reputed to be on the side of the millers and were unwaveringly opposed to any forces of democratization which challenged their hegemony.
Correct identification of the problem is the first step to proper and effective management of the industry. Determining what is causing the problem in the industry would point to what help can be offered to the farmers. During 2000 an outbreak of paddy bug was noticed in Region Two. These pests can cause serious damage to the rice plant at the milking stages. Mr Ernst Neerings, an expert on pests was requested by the GRDB and CRINET to help. Upon completing his contract he requested his release from the Board because of a misunderstanding.
He was a source of inspiration and encouragement in his research, but following his departure no more on-farm tests were carried out and the fields are not being monitored for paddy bugs thus causing the current outbreak of pests.