Apr 10, 2017 News
The Central and Upper Corentyne Chambers of Commerce are casting blame on the Guyana Rice Development Board and its sister agencies for allegedly absconding their duty and straying away from their mandate leading to a paddy bug infestation.
The Chambers released a statement attempting to counter comments made by a GRDB official on April 6, 2017 regarding the issue. The GRDB official said that the paddy bug infestation will always be a recurring problem but can be controlled if the correct manual procedures are followed.
However, both chambers contend that in a district where rice farming is the backbone of the economy, the GRDB ‘fell asleep’ allowing the pestilence in the form of the paddy bug to creep in to decimate the industry.
The statement said that in Region Six, paddy bug infestation is not an overnight invasion. “GRDB was alerted a decade ago and has made half-hearted gestures towards control via its pamphlets and ‘briefcase’ jeep-visits. Being aware of the potential havoc this bug could cause it is nothing less than a dereliction of duty of the GRDB officials, for not making a concerted attempt to control it.”
According to the Berbice Chambers, rice produced from their infected paddy was ‘stinking’ and unfit for human consumption. As a result, exporters had rejected the product and farmers received incredibly low returns for their labour.
“In response, what did GRDB do? They recommended knapsack spraying even when it was obvious the bugs chased out of one field would take refuge in the next field.”
In an earlier statement on the issue, the two Chambers had recommended that GRDB embrace mechanisation to deal with this issue. For example, it was suggested that aerial spraying be adopted which would cover greater area and prevent bugs from moving to a safe haven in other fields.
“The agency – GRDB and its officials were well aware of its backwardness. It had to be aware that aerial spraying was the only way to combat the milk-sucking bug. Not to promote it, not to introduce it, not to commit to it was myopia on their part.”
Paddy bug is a threat to rice crops since the insect feeds on the sap which fills the paddy pods before they harden to become rice grains.
In addition, the Chambers accused the GRDB of not assisting a private local company which would have done its research, made its investment and was ready for aerial spraying. The Chambers questioned how the GRDB could be so derelict of its primary duty and whether the agency will still underplay the issue in light of farmers having to pay the cost of spraying their crops multiple times.
“If it is that the rice paddy bug is finally recognized as a major setback for the rice industry would they now advocate for aerial spraying? Would they assist financially? Would they clear red-tape and sundry obstacles for it to be instituted ASAP?”
Further, the Chambers said that rice is a major foreign exchange earner, and though there is a delay in modernisation and short sightedness in crop protection, the industry is in a situation where the stream of income is likely to dry up.
“Who would be answerable? Surely, not the rice farmers, millers and rice workers. Who will it then be and how will our watchdog agency the GRDB explain to the powers-that-be that they were negligent?”
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