Rice is in crisis. The cost of production is high. The government must urgently assist rice farmers to minimize the cost of production.
1) Fertilizers: The government must import fertilizers in a well-structured manner to minimize costs and deliver to certain locations for distribution to farmers. Ask exporting countries to remove export duties for 2 years and the producers to lower the cost. The government should pay for all transportation. Have the RPA extension officers collect advances and the quantity required by each farmer. The same should be done for sugar. This process must start now for the next crop.
2) Drainage and irrigation: This is the big item. Farmers endure big losses and poor yields, due to flooding, inadequate water during cultivation, and the high cost of pumping water. The government needs to provide 2 reliable pumps with spare parts for irrigation at critical locations in the country, and have quarterly inspections. All sluices and water regulators must be reinstalled or replaced. There was no individual pumping of water, like you see with all these long pumps being carried by tractors today. All drainage/irrigation canals must be dredged so they are free from vegetation and siltation.
The water users must get all farmers to report on what infrastructure is not working and what new infrastructure is required. The government should send trained technicians who will record the general condition, category, type and urgency of repairs required with the estimated cost. 3) Research: High yield seed paddy must not be susceptible to disease and bugs. The plants must not fall easily. See what they do in Thailand. Seed Paddy should be very clean, etc.
4) Soil study: A soil study is needed to advise farmers on the quantity and type of fertilizers required.
5) Training: There should be training of farmers on efficient cultivation and management of field operations and cost.
6) Marketing: We know world prices are in control, but government should try to bargain with certain countries to do a bit better in terms of prices, like the oil for rice, Venezuela deal. Go back to Venezuela politely ‒ no land discussion. Put ego aside; many persons are saying that the coalition did not take power alone from Jagdeo, they took his ego, the horses from his clique and himself, and are riding high so that they are not reachable. They are arrogant, they know everything, they have answers for everything. A good listener is a learner and a learner is a winner.
7) Paddy purchasers: They are judge and jury all in one. They weigh and grade the farmers’ paddy. This is wrong. The farmers are at their mercy. The government must train personnel to do the weighing and grading, using the purchasers’ equipment, witnessed by both the purchasers and sellers. The grading system must be re-examined.
The above will make the rice farmer smile.