Harvesting of the present rice crop has commenced in Regions Two, Three and Six and Essequibo farmers are making full use of the sunny weather. It is still too early to give a definitive forecast of the 2013 production figures, as the yield is varied.
This crop paddy prices have decreased from $4,000 to $3,900 for A Grade; $3,900 to $3,800 for Grade B; and $3,800 to $ 3,700 for Grade C and below. The farmers have to negotiate prices with the millers and the price is expected to decline further as the crop comes to an end.
This trend, which has not been uniform over the past years, has had further serious consequences for rice farmers. An analysis of production costs indicates that many farmers were at least breaking even at the going paddy prices of the highest grade at $3,900 per bag. The price for paddy continues to be unstable and any increase may not occur in the near future.
The consequences of these declining paddy prices are already being felt and many farmers are expected to reduce their acreage. The implications for the government could be quite serious, since this would result in a loss of export earnings. Some assistance therefore will have to be given to farmers.
However, small farmers are not recovering their total costs and so their profit margins are about nil. The estimated costs for both large and small farmers for two ploughs, back blade, insecticides and fertilizers were found to be similar. Funding for the procurement of insecticides by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) through the Ministry of Agriculture to assist farmers was a pittance and couldn’t spray one acre of rice.
Because of the unusual nature of the weather pattern at this time farmers were forced to upgrade and develop all the feeder roads to give access to farms and facilitate the bringing out of paddy to the mills. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Drainage and Irrigation Department of Region Two should provide farmers with better access roads for the next crop. The present crop of rice has been seriously affected by bad roads.
Much agricultural machinery can be seen idle in the Drainage and Irrigation compound which is either not being used at all because of inadequate maintenance or owing to failure to correct some minor fault with spare parts. The systems malfunction or operate inefficiently.