While one of the plans for the rice planted at the Wales Estate was for aquaculture, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) says that it is currently using it to produce seed paddy to sell to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
In a letter published in the September 16, 2017 edition of Stabroek News, industry expert Anthony Vieira pointed out that the project’s origin ran in line with GuySuCo’s intention to kick start an aquaculture project.
He made the disclosure in response to a letter from PPP/C Member of Parlia-ment Ganga Persaud, who wrote that the Wales lands have been converted by the Ministry of Agriculture for the sole purpose of propagating new strains of seed paddy through the GRDB and the Burma Rice Research Station. Persaud dubbed it a “government ploy to go into paddy production in order to fully occupy the vast unutilised cane lands at Wales Estate. The whole concept is for the state to go into competition with the country’s peasant rice farmers.”
However, in response, Vieira called the assertion “total nonsense.” He said the rice project was conceived by him as he felt aquaculture was the answer to the country’s total problem in agriculture.
“At all times I felt that aquaculture was the answer to Guyana’s total problem in agriculture, and the reason was that all of the liabilities we currently see in growing sugar cane today, become assets for us in aquaculture,” Vieira wrote.
Listing several reasons for the project’s conceptualisation, Vieira explained that the poorly tidal drained, low-lying land below sea level becomes a major asset for aquaculture since flooded fields would be used to grow fish. He said too that the heavy, swelling clay soils, which exist on the coast, become assets, since they are extremely good at holding water for ponds and that the layout of the cambered beds, which are usually problematic for the mechanisation of sugar cane harvesting, becomes less of problem as it does not matter what is at the bottom of the ponds.
He also noted that the heavy rainfall in the country would be an asset rather than a massive liability.
Speaking to Stabroek News last week, GuySuCo’s Public Rela-tions Officer Audreyanna Thomas said, “The rice was planted for the feed for fish and fish farming but we are not doing aquaculture yet so we have an arrangement with the GRDB.” She explained that while the project only started this year, a partnership agreement with the rice development board had started last year, where it was agreed that the sugar company would plant the rice and the GRDB would purchase the seed paddy.
With respect to the aquaculture plans, Thomas explained that it is still going through the details of the feasibility study and the consultants are still reviewing the report after a consultation.
They are still reviewing the report based on the comments they got, so we are still awaiting that next submission. Aquaculture is one of the considerations for it,” she added.
Currently, there are 200 acres of rice waiting to be harvested sometime this week, which Thomas said should produce some 7,000 to 8,000 bags of seed paddy that will be sold to the GRDB.
Thomas also indicated that for the second crop, GuySuCo will be planting an additional 285 acres at the Wales Estate.