National response needed for rice woes in Region 2, says RPA

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File photo: Farmers on the Essequibo Coast had to burn their crops to stop the infestation from spreading 

Over 200 rice farmers in Region 2, (Pomeroon-Supenaam) are reeling from a paddy-bug infestation that has devastated thousands of acres of rice lands, a situation that is further exacerbated by the low prices that the farmers are being offered for their yields.

According to the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA) in a statement, the bug infestation has resulted in significant damage to the grains and in many instances it became uneconomical to even harvest the crop. Moreover, the RPA has outlined that some plots were also affected by a fungal disease.

As such, the Association questioned why the infestation was not detected earlier and “why the necessary precautions were not taken and the necessary advisory sent out?”

Moreover, the RPA said it received dozens of reports about rice prices ranging from $200 to $1500 per bag of paddy, prices that Association posited are nowhere near the $6,000 per bag promised in 2015.

“The pattern of neglect and lack of concern for the agricultural sector demonstrated by the current Administration shows no sign of abating,” the RPA said. “For many farmers, this latest blow is the proverbial ‘last straw’, after three years of non-support from the APNU+AFC Coalition Government, and without external help the lands will either be left idle or rented out.”

The RPA says it is calling on the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of Guyana to immediately take the necessary action to “address the plight of our farmers, especially those in Region Two, who are severely affected by low prices and those who were unable to harvest their crop.”

The Association also highlighted that the few farmers who do not owe the banks or other service providers will not have their homes taken away, but for the hundreds who owe banks and equipment providers the writing is on the wall.

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