Farmers in Black Bush Polder, Corentyne were told last Thursday that the first rice crop for the year 2018 is expected to be a ‘big’ one.
The farmers were also told to expect the installation of 14 new water pumps in rice cultivation areas.
According to Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, who headed a meeting which was organised by the Prime Minister’s Representative in Region Six, Gobin Harbhajan, Guyana presently supplies some 34 countries with rice. Holder highlighted that over the past two and a half years Guyana has successfully secured some five new markets.
Additionally, he told farmers that the country’s rice industry is in a much better state than it was in the past despite the loss of the Venezuela oil-for-rice market in 2015. According to Holder, this was mainly due to the new markets secured so far.
Holder told the gathering filled with rice and cash crop farmers that in order to satisfy the demands of the markets which were secured the farmers needed to expand and utilise all possible rice cultivation lands.
While highlighting the need for government’s investment in drainage and irrigation in rice producing areas, Holder also noted that farmers will see the installation of 14 new pumps from India to augment the whole supply system.
Meanwhile, Head of the Guyana Rice Development Board, Nizam Hassan, who was also at the meeting, told the farmers that the first rice crop in 2018 is expected to be one of the largest. Hassan said, “We have seen increases in production and based on the data provided to me for sowing for the first crop of 2018, we expect that it is going to be a very big crop, if not the highest in terms of production”.
According to Hassan, the increase in production was mainly due to the farmers responding to the rise in demand for Guyana’s rice.
He told the farmers, “This is because of the responses that you and your colleague farmers have been putting towards the demand of the market and the various services provided by all the stakeholders, the GRDB and its extension and research staff, the quality control efforts of the GRDB, as well as the private sector in terms of the millers and the input suppliers”. He added, “… so this augurs very well for our responses, your responses, as well as Guyana’s responses, to addressing the demands of the market”.
According to Hassan, close to 540,000 tonnes of rice valued at US$201M was exported in 2017. He explained to the farmers that in 2015 Guyana had exported 535, 000 tonnes, however in 2016 mainly due to the El Nino weather phenomenon just about 500,000 tonnes was exported.
Hassan had highlighted that Jamaica presently stands as Guyana’s major market in the Caribbean with 48,000-plus tonnes being exported in 2017. Trinidad and Tobago then comes in second with 28,000 tonnes and then St. Vincent and the other islands adding to that figure, resulting in almost 89,000 tonnes going to the Caribbean, he had explained.
In terms of Europe, Hassan said, Guyana exported 186,000 tonnes worth. “Portugal, Italy and the United Kingdom are the three leading countries that have been importing from Guyana,” Hassan explained.
Additionally, he had explained that the country has seen an increase in exports to Latin America and South America which was due to the demand from Mexico.
“Notwithstanding that the government-to-government arrangement prior to 2015 had ceased, private millers have been exporting to Venezuela and we exported almost 35,000 tons of rice to Venezuela in 2017. Mexico, of course, led the way in terms of the imports and that was backed up by other countries like Cuba, Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama”.
He added, “We have exported 40,000 tonnes of rice to Panama in 2017 and we also exported to the United States of America”.
Meanwhile, Minister Holder during the meeting also encouraged farmers to practice market- led agriculture, in order to sell their products and earn a profit. “Oftentimes we have farmers complaining about not being able to sell their produce and suffering losses because of spoilage…Since taking office, I have been encouraging farmers to practise market-led agriculture”.