Apr 05, 2016 News
A prominent Corentyne, Berbice miller, Nand Persaud, and Company Limited, has called on authorities
to take swift actions after significant paddy bug damage was noted on the current rice crop.
In a letter to Nizam Hassan, General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), on Thursday, Nand Persaud’s General Manager, Mohindra Persaud, stressed that the delay in granting permission for aerial spraying of pesticides exacerbated the situation.
“We have pleaded on many occasions that if the aerial spraying of pesticides is not done, then rice farmers would be in imminent danger of suffering great losses from paddy bugs infestation. That situation is now staring the rice farmers starkly in their faces,” Persaud said in his letter.
Nand Persaud is the producer of the popular Karibee brand and one of the biggest buyers of paddy in Berbice.
At the meeting with the Private Sector Commission on March 9, last, the company said that it indicated that the average damage to the harvested crop at that time was 7.7%.
GRBD had said that the situation is under control.
However, Persaud disclosed, as at last Wednesday, the average damage is now 13.79%.
“The damage has more than doubled and is a direct result of paddy bugs infestation,” the rice miller told GRDB.
“This dire situation is not circumstantial but is caused by the slothfulness of the PTCCB (Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in granting ASL (Air Service Limited) the necessary permission to conduct aerial spraying of pesticides.”
ASL had for some time been conducting aerial spraying for Berbice farmers but EPA and PTCCB had stepped in and halted it back in February, citing health and other concerns.
However, Nand Persaud which had hired ASL for the spraying had objected saying that there is nothing harmful in the spraying.
“This means that the majority of rice farmers will now face bankruptcy since that level of paddy damage will result in huge losses which will further be exacerbated by the current low market prices,” Persaud said in his letter last week to GRDB.
“I do hope that you can relate this situation to the PTCCB and the EPA so that the second crop can be spared another impending disaster.”
Over the weekend, GRDB published notices advising farmers how to deal with the paddy bug problem.
Yesterday, Haseef Yusuf, a spokesperson for Nand Persaud, warned that the situation is getting worse and noticeable when farmers start to bring in their paddy.
The problems are being picked up during the grading process. The bug literally sucks out the “milk” of the paddy, leaving half grains.
“The impact from not allowing aerial spraying is now manifesting itself,” Yusuf said.
The official noted that the country’s National Development Strategy speaks of the introduction of technology in the process.
Rice is one of the biggest foreign currency earners for the country but low prices, despite high production, has been affecting farmers, many of whom are indebted to the banks and suppliers for fertilizers and fuel.
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