First crop favourable for rice farmers in Region Six
BENGAL FARM, CORENTYNE – Despite the El Niño situation, more rice lands are under cultivation in Region Six this year. For the first crop (spring crop), 48,600 acres of land was sown. This crop began in December 2009. Harvesting commenced three weeks ago and should be completed by the end of May to make way for the last crop (autumn crop), which would start mid-May.
Up to Friday, the Front Lands (areas from Crabwood Creek to New Forest along with East and West Canje, the East Bank of Berbice and New Amsterdam) harvested 3,870 acres of paddy at 31 bags per acre. The four schemes comprising Black Bush Polder reaped 2,720 acres at 32 bags per acre. Based on this pattern, President of the Guyana Rice Producers’ Association, Leeka Rambrich, is predicting a higher yield than the last crop in 2009 when the yield was between 28 and 29 bags per acre. Nationally the yield was 28 bags per acre.
Rambrich posited that whatever shortfall there is in other geographic regions, Region Six can take up the slack with the increase of acreage and yield. He noted that whatever is paddy left to be reaped would be at a yield above expectation. He gave the assurance to consumers that there would be no shortage of rice both on the local and overseas markets.
The 2009 last crop saw 46,980 acres of rice planted, thus satisfying the cultivation target. It represented a 511 acre increase when compared to the 2009 first crop (Spring Crop). In the 2009 autumn crop, Borlam/East Bank planted 3,100 acres, Borlam/Hogstye – 4,505, Adventure/Number Sixty-two Village – 12,235, Number Sixty-two/Number Seventy-four Village – 6,727, Crabwood Creek – 3,425, Lesbeholden – 9,988 and Joanna and Yakusari together cultivated 7,000 acres.
The increase in cultivated land acreage was according to Rambrich, a result of stringent measures put in place by the Government, through the Regional Administration. He said there was improvement in terms of drainage and irrigation and generally proper water management.
The largest allocation under the Capital Expenditure for the 2009 Budget in Region Six – $102 million goes toward improving the drainage and irrigation system.
Meanwhile, paddy bug infestation throughout Region Six is another problem experienced so far for this first crop. Farmers are advised to be on look out and to spray their crops, check their fields and do proper monitoring of the situation. An average of six percent of the crop was affected by the bug, and this is said to be high for the sector. The cause was given as the unexpected showers. Two percent of the last crop in 2009 was infested by the paddy bug, and ‘red rice’ was an issue.
The ‘red rice’ affected between 12 and 14 percent of that crop. Rambrich described the ‘red rice’ problem as a national one, though it does not occur every season. The ‘red rice’ grows together with the regular rice but when it is ready to flower or bear it goes beyond the regular rice and bears on top. It kills the regular rice and takes over the field. When it ripens it does not stay on the ball (stem) for too long, it falls off and ends up back in the field. When harvesting, half of it enters the combine and the remainder falls to the ground.
The ‘red rice’, though fit for human consumption, is of a low grade and as the name suggests red in colour.
Meanwhile, the sector in Region Six is projecting a 50,000-acre of rice land cultivation for the next crop this year. According to him, more farmers are accepting the challenge thrown out by Government and are returning to rice farming. Some of the areas that farmers are now re-focusing attention to include, Highbury, Mara, Crabwood Creek and the Follow-Up Scheme aback Port Mourant on the Corentyne. Of the 7,000 acres of land available in the Follow-up Scheme, 2,000 acres are already under cultivation.
Region Six ranks number one in Guyana for this present crop since the most land was cultivated in this geographic location. There are 90,000 acres of land available for rice cultivation across the Berbice River in Region Five but only 70,000 is used.
Another favourable sign for rice farmers this crop is the price increase for paddy. Between $45,000 and $52,000 can now be had per ton of paddy. Last crop the figure was $36,000.
According to Rambrich, the new price was welcomed by farmers since this assisted in cushioning the high overhead cost to pump water because of the El Niño situation.
He is appealing to the three main buying centers in Region Six to speed up the intake of paddy in order to prevent spoilage.