Production figures released by GRDB misleading – Berbice rice farmers

With the first crop for 2019 almost complete, the national production is just under seven tons per hectare. This is according to the Guyana Rice Developing Board (GRDB).

Some of the paddy that was dumped

GRDB General Manager Nizam Hassan has announced that this is considered as excellent.  However, rice farmers in Berbice are contending that the figures released by the GRDB are aimed at misleading persons.
The high acreage is against a backdrop of challenges faced by some farmers in accessing water early in the crop and then an unprecedented invasion of paddy bugs.
Hassan, speaking on a GRDB Special Report aired on national television, said they explained what happened during the current crop.
“The crop in terms of harvest did well,” Hussain boasted.
However, Berbice farmers say that they are seeing a totally different picture. One rice farmer, Julius Singh, told this publication that while Hassan’s statement may somewhat be true, it does not reflect the true situation.
According to Singh, the GRDB is acting as though the impact of the paddy bug infestation on the crop is not serious.
“Some rice you cut 35 bags per acre and some you cut 40 bags per acre but what is the use; the ‘Gandhi’ [paddy bugs] suck everything out of the paddy, you can’t get money off the paddy,” the rice farmer said.
Some of the farmers have had to dump their paddy after mills rejected it because of the poor quality as a result of paddy bug infestation; the worst in decades according to some farmers.
According to Hassan, over ninety per cent of the crop, which was hit by the paddy sucking insect, has been harvested in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
In Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), ninety-eight per cent of the 13,281 hectares under rice cultivation has been harvested.
“In that region, there was some issues with paddy bugs and we had an intervention. The average yield for that region is 5.7 tonnes per hectare,” the General Manager said.
In Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) the average was 5.5 tonnes per hectare.
Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), which has a small acreage of 3600 hectares, yielded a whopping seven tonnes per hectare while in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), which cultivated almost 40,000 hectares, the yield was 5.7 tonnes per hectare.
“Region Six had 23,726 hectares under cultivation and yielded almost seven tonnes per hectare. So the overall yield for the country thus far is 6.07 to be exact which is an excellent performance despite the challenges,” Hussain said.
On Wednesday last, several farmers on the Corentyne in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), who have been affected by the paddy bug infestation called on Government to provide some form of assistance to enable them to go into the next crop.
Some of the farmers have had to dump their paddy after millers rejected it because of the poor quality which resulted from the paddy bug infestation.
When the crop started, farmers said that they were forced to pump water after the Regional Administration lacked fuel to operate the four pumps in the Black Bush Polder. This was followed by the blockage of the Seaforth Canal, which created more difficulty for some farmers.
Rice Producers Association Field Officer, Ramlagan Singh said more than 30 farmers in the region had all of their paddy rejected and were forced to dump it; some on the roadside and others on the beach.
He added that most of the paddy was not even fit for animal consumption.