…as farmers still awaiting GRBD’s aerial spraying
Rice farmers in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) could lose more than half a billion dollars from the current autumn crop. This is according to President of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA) Leeka Rambrich.
On August 16 last, General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nezam Hassan explained that the exercise of aerial spraying to combat the paddy bugs will commence in Region Six.
This was after rice farmers had taken to the streets protesting and demanding that the GRDB conduct aerial spraying for the bugs which cost the region to lose more than a billion dollars last crop.
According to Rambrich, he discussed the issue with the General Manager of the GRDB on Tuesday, who informed him that he has to submit a 13-page document to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to have permission for aerial spraying in Region Six.
Three weeks ago, rice farmers on the Corentyne had intensified their calls for the GRDB to conduct aerial spraying in the region. It was then that Rambrich disclosed that Hassan was given the green light for aerial spraying to be conducted in the rice-producing regions except Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
According to Rambrich, spraying is yet to commence.
“While the General Manager is dragging his feet on this issue, rice farmers are losing money and the country as a whole is losing money. I feel that the General Manager has erred in his job. Because the Board had given him the go-ahead or permission three months ago to do aerial spraying. The General Manager sat on the directives of the Board and did nothing. “
The RPA President noted that it was only after farmers started demanding aerial spraying that the GRDB General Manager commenced negotiating and putting systems in place.
“And up to now nothing has been done, he cannot get anything started,” Rambrich said while adding that he is of the opinion that several agencies are not taking into consideration the present situation on the ground.
“The EPA needs to work with the farmers and the General Manager of the Board. They should realise how much money the farmers lose and how much money farmers lost during the last crop. In Region Six alone, farmers lost $1.5 billion dollars due to paddy bug damage and again we have seen the presence of paddy bugs in the fields.”
“I am projecting by the end of this crop, we will see a ten per cent damage as a result of paddy bug infestation in Region Six.”
The region, he noted, is expected to produce two million bags of paddy this crop.
“Ten per cent would be 200,000 bags of paddy. At $3000 per bag, it would be $600,000. So, the region stands to lose a lot of money again. Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) has been given permission to do aerial spraying. I cannot understand why Region Six is being segregated and being treated differently from other regions.”
“I am appealing to all of the responsible agencies to come forward and support the Board’s initiative of aerial spraying to save the rice industry and save farmers’ crop from insects,” the RPA President said.