Government should expedite the supply of subsidized fertilizers in the rice-growing regions

Dear Editor,

Sowing of the present rice crop has commenced in all parts of the Essequibo Coast, Region Two, where farmers are making full use of the weather and the water from the Tapakuma irrigation canals. It is anticipated that some 32,500 acres will be sown for this crop.

Some young rice will be 18-20 days old and will need nitrogen (Urea) and phosphorous (TSP) fertilizers. Field trials and actual farm use have shown that when fertilizers are properly used on the required days, the results can be to the significant advantage of the farmer. Rice farmers are worried that the five million dollars which was budgeted as subsidies for fertilizers would not reach them in time and they would have to buy their first dose of fertilizers at a very high price from wholesalers.

The consequences of these high prices are already being felt as farmers began buying their fertilizers from outside sources. Considering the critical nature of the current situation, it would be wise for Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) to lobby the Guyana government and the Ministry of Agricul-ture to expedite the purchase and shipping of the fertilizers in all the rice-growing regions.

Fertilizers are necessary for normal plant growth in rice and are considered the primary plant food elements, in addition to which they should be applied at the right time.

If the plant is deficient in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous it is left stunted and tillering is reduced. The leaves become erect and yellow and the younger leaves turn pale green starting from the tip. Efforts should be made to get the fertilizers on time; the loss of rice would create a shortfall in terms of accessing new markets.

Sowing with fertilizers on time and harvesting an early crop will enable the industry to meet its commitments to the export market. However, farmers find themselves at a disadvantage from the outset in obtaining these fertilizers because they are stored too far from the central part of the region and the transportation costs add up to the same if they buy it in their area.

Some wholesalers and distributors are delivering the fertilizers directly to the farmer’s doorstep at the same cost as the government.

Some of these fertilizers are found to have short weight amounting to as much as 15-20 lbs when purchased from these outlets, and this is a major problem in many rice growing regions with unscrupulous dealers. Many farmers only discover their costly mistake when their harvest fails.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Khan