AFC says Essequibo rice sector beset by a number of problems
By STABROEK STAFF | LOCAL | THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2011

The Alliance For Change says the inefficiency of the Dawa pump near the Pomeroon River is a cause for serious concern among other problems besetting the rice industry on the Essequibo Coast. This pump which channels water into the Tapakuma Lake and then into the main canal from where rice farmers have access is not being operated to meet the needs of rice farmers on the coast, the party said yesterday in a press release.

According to the AFC, the regional chairman and vice chairman have both stated previously that monies that have to be requested from Central Government are not available to operate this pump to maximum efficiency. Farmers have said, the release noted, that an inadequate supply of water causes the land to dry out and this condition brings about the growth of unwanted weeds in the rice field. When it is considered that rice is a crop that is highly dependent on an adequate and timely supply of water, “this situation is revealed as grossly untenable,” the AFC asserted.

Farmers have said too that in years gone by an efficient system of drainage and irrigation was maintained by rangers who did periodic checks on water levels to ensure that the supply was adequate. But today although there is still the existence of rangers, the efficient system of monitoring has completely broken down. There were even instances when rangers were implicated in the passing of shoddy drainage work, the party added.

The AFC also pointed out that there is a single bulldozer on the entire Essequibo Coast attached to the Drainage and Irrigation Authority and it is used to maintain the access dams that farmers depend on heavily but this bulldozer has been down for the last two months. The party observed that access roads are very important to rice cultivation and this unavailability of machinery to maintain these is “quite unacceptable.”

Another matter that the party found as a “source of bother” for rice farmers in Region Two is the lengthy period, sometimes up to six months, that they sometimes have to wait for payment from the millers. Farmers have also said that they are oppressed by the VAT attached to the cost of spare parts and other implements for tractors, combines and other equipment. They have posited that in the interest of agriculture production, the VAT attached to such spares should be reduced or even zero-rated, the AFC stated. Moreover, the party noted, farmers have said that they are completely at the mercy of the millers when it comes to the pricing of their product and the Guyana Rice Development Board should be more involved in this process to ensure that they have access to a just and equitable price.

Meanwhile, the AFC said its “Action Plan” for the rice sector is based on policies that will bring about a fuller realization of its potential and greater profitability. The “Action Plan” calls for regaining respect within Caricom, UNASUR and other international markets so that Guyana can be a reliable supplier of rice. The AFC also pointed to the need to provide access to low interest capital through the establishment of a State Development Bank which will support the rice farmers and the millers, as well as fishery and livestock farmers.

Another aspect of the AFC’s plan is to make planting and reproductive material available to farmers by the authorities, while GRDB, NARI and UG will be upgraded to produce higher yielding and better disease-resistant varieties and generic planting material so there will be less dependence on imported pesticides, weedicides and fertilizers. The party noted too that it will pursue the improvement of farm to market dams and roads and the overhauling of the drainage and irrigation system. Another aspect of the AFC’s “Action Plan” is to facilitate the manufacturing of value-added products such as rice cereals, rice milk and flakes for the local and international markets.

In the meantime, the AFC acknowledged that the rice industry on the Essequibo Coast is the lifeblood of the Region Two economy and an afflicted rice industry will have far reaching repercussions in the other sectors as well.

Source
Original Post


Essequibo Rice Sector beset by a number of problems
Read by Khemraj Ramjattan, Presidential Candidate, AFC Chairman

The Alliance For Change is seriously concerned at recent problems besetting the rice industry on the Essequibo Coast. It goes without saying that the rice industry on the Essequibo Coast is the lifeblood of the Region 2 economy (with approximately 32,000 acres under rice cultivation) and an afflicted rice industry will have far reaching repercussion in the other sectors as well.

Firstly, the inefficiency of the Dawa pump located near the Pomeroon River is a cause for serious concern. This pump which channels water into the Tapakuma Lake and then into the main canal from where rice farmers have access, is not being operated to meet the needs of rice farmers on the coast.

The Chairman and Vice Chairman have both made statements in the past that monies are not available to operate this pump to maximum efficiency and that monies have to be requested from Central Government.

Farmers say that an inadequate supply of water causes the land to dry which is accompanied by the growth of unwanted weeds in the rice field. When it is considered that rice is a crop that is highly dependent on an adequate and timely supply of water, this situation is revealed as grossly untenable. Farmers have said that in years gone by, an efficient system of drainage and irrigation was maintained by rangers who did periodic checks on water levels to ensure that the supply was adequate. Today, whilst there is still the existence of rangers, the efficient system of monitoring has completely broken down. Farmers have said that there were even instances when rangers were implicated in the passing of shoddy drainage work.

The rice yield of the Essequibo coast which is approximately 1 million bags of paddy per crop will definitely see reduced figures at the end of this crop as a result of this unreliable supply of water.

The AFC has discovered that there is a single bulldozer (on the whole of the Essequibo Coast) attached to the Drainage and Irrigation Authority which works and maintains the access dams that farmers depend on heavily. This Bulldozer has been down for the last two months. Rice farmers have said that access roads are very important to rice cultivation and this unavailability of machinery to maintain these is quite unacceptable.

Farmers have said that they are completely at the mercy of the millers when it comes to the pricing of their product. They have said that millers fix prices on supposedly world market trends. However, there is no means of verifying this information. They have posited that the Guyana Rice Development Board must be more involved in this process to ensure that farmers have access to a just and equitable price. Another source of bother for rice farmers in region two is the lengthy period (sometimes up to six months) they sometimes have to wait for payment from the millers.

Farmers have said that they are oppressed by the VAT attached to the cost of spare parts and other implements for tractors, combines and other equipment. They have posited that in the interest of agricultural production, the VAT attached to such spares should be reduced or even zero rated.

The AFC in its Action Plan proposes the following policies for the rice sector for a fuller realization of its potential and greater profitability.

1. Re-gaining the respect within Caricom, UNASUR and other international markets that Guyana can be a reliable supplier of rice;

2. Provide access to low interest capital through the establishment of a State Development Bank which will support the rice farmers and the millers, as well as fishery and livestock farmers;

3. Planting and reproductive material being available to farmers by the authorities. GRDB, NARI and UG will be upgraded to produce higher yielding and better disease-resistant varieties and generic planting material to ensure less dependence on imported pesticides, weedicides and fertilizers;

4. Improve the farm to market dams and roads and overhaul the drainage and irrigation system;

5. Manufacture value added products e.g. rice cereals, rice milk and flakes for the local and international markets.

ress-releases&Itemid=55" target="_blank">Source
A bumper rice crop unlikely this year
By STABROEK STAFF | LETTERS | WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2011

Dear Editor,

Harvesting of the present rice crop has commenced in Region Two, where farmers are making full use of the sunny weather. It has not commenced in the central parts of the Essequibo Coast, but is moving apace in the northern and to some extent the southern sections.

In the areas where harvesting has begun farmers have reported that they are reaping an average of 20-25 bags per acre. The red rice infestation has somewhat affected the crop, so they are not optimistic that overall a bumper crop will result. Some 31,500 acres are expected to be harvested without much difficulty in this region. The analysis of farmers‘ costs for this crop indicate that many farmers would break even with their production costs at the going yield.

However, some farmers would not recover their total costs and their profit margins will be affected. These uncertainties and falling yields will alarm policy-makers in the industry with regard to the quality of paddy and whether Guyana can effectively supply the Venezuelan market. Every effort would have to be made to catch up on the shortfall in the next crop of 2012. In order to achieve this, some assistance will have to be given to farmers.

The red rice affecting the current crop is a consequence of the prolonged dry spell. In those fields affected by red rice, farmers should not use produce from the crop as seed because it will increase the red rice problem and there will be low germination and poor seedling vigour. The Ministry of Agriculture should arrange to get high quality seeds from the RPA seed bond at Anna Regina or the Burma Rice Research Station. Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud should seek help from NARI and the Burma Research Station to combat the red rice infestation in the future. Considering the nature of the current situation, it will be necessary to lobby these agencies to protect the interest of our rice farmers.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khan

Source
Come on Gerhard, the above post couldn't be true, no way banna, no way, not after I read this. Big Grin


Region Two Chairman, technical officers reject AFC misrepresentation

Georgetown, GINA, September 7, 2011
Source - GINA

Region Two Chairman Ali Baksh today rejected claims made by the Alliance for Change (AFC), that farmers of the Region are beset by a number of problems, including irrigation.

He said that despite having a difficult crop due to the prolonged dry period, the region has already positioned itself to reap 100 percent of production, due to interventions which have significantly assisted farmers.

The region, with assistance from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and the Water Users Associations (WUAs), assisted farmers with fuel and pumping water from the Pomeroon River into the Tapakuma Lake conservancy.

“We have done our best from our side to assist farmers of Region Two. I think some of the statements made are ridiculous and uncalled for and I can assure the public that the majority of farmers would also refute such claims despite the few who have aligned themselves with political parties,” he said.

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