THAT LASER LEVELER AGAIN
The editor of this newspaper is to verify whether in the construction of the four-lane highway on the East Bank of Demerara or in any of the major road rehabilitation works which have taken place in Guyana over the past seventeen years whether any of the contracting firms found it necessary to use a laser leveler.
In road construction, the gradient of the surface of the road is a critical element of engineering design and construction, and thus it would be helpful to know if in the undertaking of the thousands of miles of roadways which have been built in Guyana over the past seventeen years whether a laser land leveler was utilised.
I hope that this newspaper’s editor makes the necessary checks since it would be helpful to know what was the experience in the use of any such technology in Guyana in road and general construction.
Some time ago, this newspaper had commented on the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture to introduce laser leveling tractors within the industry.
The column was subsequently greeted with a stern response from a representative of a company which I presume had an interest in these types of machinery.
Now the Peeper understands the position of any company that sells such machinery. The company has an interest in putting forward its case. It is in the company’s interest to do so.
However, we have to look at what is cost effective, appropriate, beneficial and workable in Guyana.
We have to compare the costs with the benefits and equally compare these with alternative machinery which can do the same job for far cheaper. Land leveling in the rice industry has never been a problem in Guyana. Almost all of the rice in Guyana is grown on the coastal plain which as we know is only slightly sloping.
Thus, the need for massive capitalisation in leveling land is not necessary considering the terrain.
This column has never disputed the benefits of land leveling. It has only questioned whether there is a need for expensive laser technology to be introduced considering the costs of such machinery and the fact that considerable time, training and costs will have to be involved in diffusing this technology to rice farmers, the majority of whom plant small acreages.
What is needed, also, is for a verifiable case to be made locally for the introduction of such technology. What we have taking place, instead, is the experience of other countries in the use of laser leveling being transplanted to Guyana, without any local experimental tests being done locally, from which the data can be examined to determine whether indeed a case has been made out that the introduction of laser leveling machinery would be cost effective.
Land leveling is not new to Guyana. From the time rice has been cultivated in Guyana, land leveling has been taking place using traditional and other ingenious means.
In the old days, an ox used to pull a plank of wood across the fields as a means of leveling the fields.
Today the tractor has replaced the ox. This is a cheap and inexpensive way in which fields are leveled.
Admittedly these traditional methods are not as precise as laser leveling but they are far cheaper and thus if the Ministry of Agriculture feels that the introduction of this “modern” technology can make a huge difference in the yields as compared to that using traditional land leveling methods, then the Ministry of Agriculture needs to commission experimental tests over a period of time to show how the use of laser land leveling would grant significant profits over that of traditional means of land leveling and the this differential would offset the increased capitalisation, training and operational costs associated with the introduction of laser land leveling.
An additional consideration pointed out in the original column was that while laser leveling was said to be extremely beneficial where there is water scarcity, in Guyana the problems in the rice industry are invariably associated with fields being inundated with water for too long as a result of poor drainage or excessive flooding.
This is all the more reason why Guyana needs to conduct its own cost-benefit analysis to determine whether there is indeed a need for this technology in Guyana.