During an outreach to the Corentyne on Saturday last, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha visited the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) Lesbeholden seed paddy facility. It is one of five such facilities in the country.
The facility, which was commissioned in 2008, was constructed at a cost of $50 million. In addition to the equipment, a drying floor was also constructed to reduce instances of farmers drying paddy on public roadways.
Following the tour, Minister Mustapha expressed his disappointment with the current state of the facility. He said that budgetary allocations were made to execute rehabilitation works of that nature and tasked the GRDB and the Rice Producers’ Association (RPA) with providing an estimate for those works to be carried out.
“I’m very disappointed, that since this facility was constructed, it has not been put into operation. I can’t say exactly what happened but after examining the equipment, I was very shocked to see the state of the dryer, the processor, and the generator.
“We have some money in the budget, and I’ve asked the GRDB to work along with the RPA to give us an estimate for the repairs. It is very important for us to make this facility operable because we have a lot of demands now for seed paddy. I don’t think it was ever put into use. Once we rehabilitate it, many farmers will be able to benefit,” Minister Mustapha said.
Minister Mustapha also said that trials for the bio-fortified rice are currently ongoing at the facility.
“If you look around, GRDB has several trial plots in the compound, and just like at Burma, there’s a part here with the bio-fortified rice under trial that we are working along with IICA to develop. This is why we need to ensure all of our facilities are operable to process those varieties. I’ll be working aggressively to ensure we get this facility up and running,” Minister Mustapha said.
Furthermore, the subject Minister tasked the Chief Executive Officer of the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) with ensuring rehabilitation works are carried out on a building located in the compound that is attached to the agency. The building which is currently covered in vines and bushed was once used to house extension staff.
“NAREI will have to more aggressive. The building over there is unsightly. Vines and bushes have taken over the entire building. The former CEO should’ve seen that these things needed to be done. When you go around the country these are the things that we are finding out. I’ve instructed the new CEO of NAREI to ensure rehabilitation works are carried out on this building so that we can have someone living here to overlook this facility,” Minister Mustapha said.