By: Andrew Carmichael
Rice farmers at Crabwood Creek, on the Corentyne Coast in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), are seeking the intervention of the Agriculture Ministry because an estimated 3000 acres of cultivation have been affected by disease.
Some farmers have reported being able to reap from the affected acreage, but the yield has been extremely low.
Some 4000 acres are under rice cultivation at Crabwood Creek, of which, farmers say, about 3000 acres have been affected by disease.
Production from the affected area ranges between zero and ten bags per acre, the farmers have reported, whereas the region had averaged over 30 bags per acre for the last crop.
The farmers met with officials from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) at Number 56 Village on Tuesday. According to the rice farmers, numbering more than twenty, the poor yield has made it impossible for them to go back into the next crop.
Jagal Singh, who cultivates 50 acres of rice, explained that the farmers were invited to meet with a representative of the GRDB on Tuesday. He said they are hoping to be able to get some form of assistance from Government, as losses for some farmers run into millions of dollars.
Many of them are indebted to the millers, from whom they had credited fertilizer and other chemicals, and they have contractual obligations to financing institutions.
“Some of us buy tractors on terms, and we can’t meet that demand, because we didn’t make any money,” he explained. He said he reaped an average of ten bags per acre. “That is below par. Before, we would get 25 to 30 bags per acre, so we lost a lot of money. We didn’t even clear half and half,” he said, referring to ‘half and half’ as being the brake-even point.
Farmer Jainarine Chanderdeo has said he lost about 70 acres. According to this farmer, this comes on the heels of another disaster that hit them all as rice farmers.
“We would like if the Government could assist us with some assistance to go back into the crop, because we owe all of the millers and we owe the bank. We owe for machinery (and) we can’t even fulfill the installment. Since the flood disaster, this is two disasters knocking me, and I didn’t get any help on to today,” he lamented. Some of the farmers opine that the paddy is being destroyed by Blast.
Prakash Seepersaud says he cultivated 15 acres. “I didn’t get to cut none because of the disease. The expense was nearly $2M for me, and I don’t have any money to go back into the crop, and I took a loan from the bank,” he said.
President of the Rice Producers Association of Guyana (RPA), Leakha Rambrich, has said there have been instances of low yield even at the Burma Rice Development Research Station as well at the station at Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder. He noted that those same stations also had some very good yields.
Research is currently being done to see why this may have occurred, and it has been noted that climate change could be one factor.
Rambrich says the rice could have been affected by a fungus which could have been a result of poor husbandry. He says farmers should not just leave workers to attend to their crops, but must be actively involved with the crop.
The RPA President says the Crabwood Creek rice farmers have not officially reported the situation to the Rice Producers Association.