Nand Persaud provides credit facilities to farmers for expanded production

By Andrew Carmichael

Over the past decade, one rice miller has been assisting rice farmers to expand by making credit facilities available to them.

Rice farmer Roshnie Rupert

Currently, some 62,000 acres of rice land is under cultivation in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) by some 600 farmers.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nand Persaud and Company Ltd, Mohindra Persaud, he has interviewed many rice farmers who say they are willing to expand production by 20 per cent. This would mean another 12,000 acres under rice cultivation, thus creating hundreds of jobs.
Nand Persaud Group of Companies has, over the past decade, been assisting with the expansion of the rice industry by helping farmers to clear the bush and put in drainage and irrigation facilities.
On such person, Mahase Rupert, a 36-year-old rice farmer, who has close to 1000 acres under cultivation, had faced numerous problems cultivating rice in the backlands of Port Mourant.

Vacant lands which can be converted for rice cultivation

He and his wife, Roshnie Rupert, cultivated 740 acres six miles off the Corentyne Highway at Follow Up.
“This land was sheer bush and with the help from Nand Persaud and Company, we clean out all the bush and start to plant rice and fix the trench and make the dams,” Rupert explained, noting that prior to having a dam leading to the back of East Canje, he had to truck his paddy out to the Corentyne Highway at Port Mourant using Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) cultivation area dams.
This posed several challenges since the three-mile journey was along an earthen road with several high bridges, which cane punts pass under.
In addition to that, on some occasions, they were forbidden to use GuySuCo’s roads.

The access road made by Roshnie Rupert and her husband Mahase Rupert

“When the rain fall, GuySuCo don’t give us a pass because they don’t want anyone to drive on the dam when it wet.”
His wife further explained other financial implications of having to use GuySuCo’s roads to transport their paddy.
“This dam benefits us a lot to get into and out of the backdam. Taking our produce out is a very important part of our operations. This is the main access to where we are making out living. We have to pay $5000 for one truck to use the estate road. So, with this dam we get our benefits because we don’t pay an access fee here,” she pointed out.
The dam which was built by the rice miller takes an average of seventy truckloads of rice per crop.
The Ruperts would have had to pay about $350,000 to GuySuCo just to get the paddy on the road. In addition, the three-mile journey was risky given the steep turns and high bridges.
“Because the bridges are so high you can get a topple especially when they are full plus we can’t full the truck from the backdam; we have to take it with a grain cart to a distance which is another expense but on this dam, our trucks reach till in the backdam,” Mahase explained.
When it rains during the harvesting season, the rice farmer would have to wait, sometimes for days, before he can get his paddy out. This in turn caused days of downtime since the lorries were forced to park and wait.
The combine in the field and all workers were also forced to wait while production cost kept rising.
The alternative was to use boats to take the paddy out to East Canje and then load it into a lorry. This too proved very costly because it took five boatloads to fill one lorry.
“You have to pay the men to load in the boat then you have to pay them again to take it out and load it in the truck. Is like five times more you have to pay for labour when you use the boat,” Mahase explained.
The farmer said he was forced to take his paddy to the mill using the boat system on many occasions to save downtime and to ensure the paddy gets to the mill in a timely manner.
Paddy with lots of moisture remaining in a bulk could start to germinate quickly because of the heat it generates.
But that is all history now as Persaud approached him and advised that he can add another 440 acres to the 300 he was cultivating at Follow Up.
To get the project underway entailed funding for equipment, the clearing of the land and the installation of the necessary infrastructure.
Currently, Rupert is reaping his second crop from that expansion.
Meanwhile, he no longer has to rely on GuySuCo for irrigation and drainage as he sources water from the Canje River.
Persaud said he has always been encouraging farmers to expand by providing the necessary framework for them to do so.
Funding for such projects is sometimes provided and, on many occasions, the materials needed to expand, which include fertilisers and pesticides, are provided on a loan basis.
Nand Persaud, which is one of the country’s top rice millers, is a conglomerate of companies assisting farmers by offering credit facilities. In fact, the company has also employed an agronomist who goes into the field to collect data which is used in advising farmers at no cost to rice farmers.