Apr 20, 2021 News
By Malisa Playter-Harry
Kaieteur News – Built in 2009, a seed drying facility located at Lesbeholden, Black Bush Polder, Berbice, was left abandoned since it was set up. During a tour of the facility on Saturday last, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, who was accompanied by a team, saw that the structure was overgrown with vines and grass. Dust and cobweb were there in abundance as well.
The Minister described the dilapidated structure as “very disappointing” even as he drew attention to the fact that “it was not put into operation.” He expressed shock at the condition of the facility’s dryer, processing plant and generator.
Following his assessment of the facility, Minister Mustapha instructed that the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) work together in order to ascertain the cost to “bring back the facility.”
Some $20M has been budgeted to execute rehabilitation works on the facility, the Minister disclosed. “I want this facility to come into use because we are having a lot of demands now for seed paddy. For last year we have launched a new variety of seed paddy, the GRDB-16, and those are in demand.”
People on the Corentyne, the Minister said, will need those paddy and such processing facilities will be required. “If you look around, GRDB is doing the experiment field that they have and there is a part that what we did at Burma they are doing here, the bio-fortified rice. That is a very important variety of rice because it has a lot of health benefits, it has zinc in it (and) other health benefits, so we are now in the trial stage,” Minister said.
With optimism he said, “…this time around when we rehabilitate it, we can have it for the benefit of the farmers and the RPA will play a role to get it done.”
Additionally, he pointed out that the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) will have to be “more aggressive” in the work that it does. “If you look at the building over there (building next to the seed drying plant), vine is taking over the building and that is why the former CEO, he should have seen (to it) that these things are in a better state. When you go around the country these are the things that we are finding out now, I went to Timehri, 63 and other nurseries and its horrifying to see certain things that I am seeing.”
According to the Minister, he has tasked the new CEO acting at NAREI, Jagnarine Singh, to oversee plans for the building. “I want this building to be cleaned, set into a proper state and we can have someone living here to take care of these facilities,” Minister Mustapha stated.
An estimate for the works to be completed is expected as soon as next week, this publication was informed.
Currently, there is one functioning seed drying facility in Berbice (Region Six). It is located at Number 56 Village. In addition, there are currently six seed drying floors in the Region, with three being located at Black Bush Polder and one each at Bengal Village, Number 56 and Crabwood Creek.
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