Heavy rains affect rice crop preparations
By Chamanlall Naipaul
June 20, 2002
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General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA), Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj told the Chronicle that all the rice growing regions have been affected in varying degrees by the heavy rainfall, but Region Five has been the hardest hit.
He said that out of a possible 68,000 acres in the region, farmers were only able to prepare 26,300 acres, while only 16,000 acres have been planted, representing about 21 per cent of the lands available.
In Black Bush Polder in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne), Seeraj said reaping has not been completed, with 250 acres yet to be harvested, and hardly any planting has been been done because of heavy flooding. If the weather eases, the reaping would be completed, but the quality of the paddy will be considerably reduced.
On the Corentyne, between Numbers 52 and 74 Villages, the situation is much more optimistic with 13,000 acres out of a maximum 16,000 acres planted.
In Regions Two, (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) and Four (Demerara/Mahaica), Seeraj reported that the situation is more favourable, with Region Two succeeding in planting almost all its lands - 31,000 acres out of a maximum 32,000 acres. The corresponding figures for Regions Three and Four are 13,000 of 20,000 acres, and 6,300 of 6,800 acres, respectively.
Seeraj pointed out also, that under the wet conditions, there is a threat of an outbreak of paddy bug infestation. Consequently, the RPA, in collaboration with the Extension and Research Department of the Guyana Rice Development Board and the Burma Rice Research Station, has begun a series of educational seminars on paddy bug and insect pest management for rice farmers.
Seeraj is encouraging farmers to attend these seminars so that they can become au fait with the techniques and methods of controlling pests.
Meanwhile, work on the rice relief package agreed to between the Government and bankers is moving favourably.
The arrangement hit a snag when some banks insisted that the farmers pay outstanding interest from January to now before they can benefit from it, but the banks have decided to withdraw that position, and one has even extended the waiver on interest payments to this month-end.
Agreement on a relief package was clinched in January this year, providing for waivers on interest on non-performing loans with outstanding principal of $10M or less at the end of August last year, and for 25 per cent of the principal suspended and eventually written off over an agreed period if the debt is being satisfactorily serviced.
Interest rates on the rescheduled loans will be calculated at a minimum of 10 per cent per annum, subject to the six-month average of the Treasury Bill. The banks and their clients will decide the period over which the loan will be repaid under the agreement.
Some 1,300 rice farmers owe commercial banks about $11B, with 1,200 of them owing about 20 per cent of the debt and expecting to benefit from the relief package.