Mar 06, 2016 News
Rice farmers are up in arms. They want the government to intervene in a dispute that has developed between rice farmers and the pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) that is threatening to ruin their rice crop.
The crux of the matter is the recent decision of the PTCCB to stop aerial spraying of the farmers’ rice and deny Air Service Limited’s (ASL) request for any further spraying of the farmers’ crop.
Rice farmers of Regions Four, Five and Six are mostly affected by the latest indiscretion by the PTCCB. The farmers convened an emergency meeting at the Nand Persaud and Company Limited Head officer at No.36 Village Corentyne where over 25 large scale farmers converged.
The farmers are seeing the move by PTCCB as discriminatory since they say that Guysuco is being allowed to do aerial spraying and they see no logical reason why they cannot be allowed to do likewise.
According to Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the company, Haseef Yusuf, the farmers are very aggrieved for a number of reasons.
He stated that farmers are likely to lose their crop because of the heavy infestation of paddy bug and caterpillars.
“If there is no spraying soon, farmers will lose their crop. He said that the continued denial by the PTCCB of the farmers’ request for aerial spraying also comes at a time when the farmers were severely affected by the ongoing El Nino weather conditions.
Yusuf said the PTCCB’s strange decision to block ASL from conducting aerial spraying of rice fields followed complaints from members of the public over the possible harmful effects such spraying could have on communities in close proximity.
However, Yusuf is contending that Guysuco has been spraying for years and the PTCCB never made a move against them. This is also despite several complaints by residents that they are being affected. He is wondering why the different postures since both crops are equally important and of much benefit to Guyana.
Yusuf also argues that only large scale rice farmers are utilizing the facilities and most of their cultivations are far from residential areas.
“Manual spraying is not effective since there is an acute shortage of manual labour and it is impossible to treat the large acreage under cultivation.
The rice farmers are already faced with low prices and high costs of production. Yusuf stated. In a technological world aerial spraying is far better more effective and less costly.
With aerial spraying, there is only an overlap of about 10 feet while with the motor blower the overlap could be between 20 and 30 feet. With the hand spraying, the overlap could be up to 70 feet.
Another factor is that most cultivations are way down into the back lands, sometimes as much as 17 miles. Workers do not want to travel such far distances.
Farmer, Harry Beharry, stated that the PTCCB is now becoming a pest. “Look who make up the Pesticide Board! None of them are farmers. They sit in an office and want to make decisions about what goes on in the field.”
The farmers noted that the current weather conditions are ideal for paddy bugs. With Ariel spraying there is more chance of the chemical going deeper into the root and killing the pests, while with the hand spraying the pest will go into the root and hide and after a time reemerge and destroy the crop.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder has been contacted on the issue and has since met with the PTCCB.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also met with the PTCCB to discuss the issue. However, the farmers believe that Holder should take a more proactive stance since time is running out.
However, according to the farmers they were told by Minister Holder, that the regulations on aerial spraying stipulate that the plot of land being sprayed by aerial spraying should be one mile away from others.
The farmers again are asking what about Guysuco.
Minister Holder stated that a policy document on aerial spraying is being prepared and will be available in a few months. The farmers say the rice crop is greatly infested by pests including paddy bugs and caterpillars and is at the mercy of being destroyed.
Suriname has been doing aerial spraying of rice for a number of years and no one has been adversely affected.
The farmers need immediate action before their livelihood is ruined.
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