Government committed to boosting agriculture sector - Sawh
Guyana Chronicle
February 29, 2004

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(GINA) - MINISTER of Agriculture, Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock Mr. Satyadeow Sawh has told farmers that government remains committed to ensuring that the farming community and the agricultural sector as a whole, receive necessary support to move forward. The Minister was at the time delivering the feature address at the annual field day and exhibition at the Rice Research Station Burma, Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice).

Minister Sawh urged farmers to take up the challenge and apply science and technology in their production of rice to ensure upward mobility. He stated that there are many opportunities in the sector, and charged farmers to seek them out, since they will not fall into their laps.

The Minister noted the importance of the event, which is being held in International Year of Rice. He noted that the rice industry is of great importance since it employs hundreds of thousands of people and provides food for the nation and this region.

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr. Jacques Diouf at the United Nations in New York declared 2004 International Year of Rice on October 31, 2003. FAO's theme for this year is 'Rice is Life' and Guyana's theme is 'Rice - the grain of life'.

Minister Sawh said that Government recognises that the traditional crops will continue to play an important role in Guyana's economy. He pointed out that farming is no longer viewed as a lowly profession since many people are recognising the importance of the agriculture sector. He further expressed gratitude to the farming community for the work they do.

Government has been promoting the diversification of the agriculture sector and to date there have been many bold initiatives. Minister Sawh noted that the agriculture sector has been developing steadily and urged that more farmers invest in this venture.
Minister Sawh pointed out that the agriculture sector has a bright future and urged that all the stakeholders work together to propel the sector forward.

Chief Scientist Mr. Leroy Small provided an overview of the research done at the station. He said the station will continue its efforts to produce higher yielding varieties of rice.

FAO representative, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, Mr. David Bowen pledged the continued support of the FAO saying that people in the agriculture sector must work together.

Mr. Bowen announced that Guyana will soon benefit from a technical cooperation project titled 'Introduction of Agriculture and other Integrated Production Management Practices to Rice Farmers'. The project was approved for Guyana and Suriname of which the FAO's contribution is US$392,000.

The field day and exhibition featured a tour of the Burma Station and several field visits. Farming equipment used in the cultivation of rice were on display along with the different varieties of rice.

Also at the field day were students from the Guyana School of Agriculture, General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board, Mr. Jagnarine Singh, General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj, Marketing Manager of the GRDB Mr. Nigel Dharamlall, and Director of the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) Dr. Oudho Homenauth.

Rice research has changed hands as well as locations during the past century. Early research activities were carried out by the Department of Agriculture at the Botanical Gardens and subsequently at Mon Repos.

In 1972, responsibility for rice research was shifted to the Guyana Rice Corporation which continued research activities at Mon Repos and later in 1974 relocated these activates in Burma. The Burma Rice Research Station was officially commissioned in December 1974. Subsequently, the responsibility for research was entrusted for varying periods to the Guyana Rice Board, the Guyana Rice Milling and Marketing Authority and the National Agriculture Research Institute.

In January 1995, the Guyana Rice Development Board assumed responsibility for rice research at Burma. That station is now staffed by two senior scientists, five junior scientists and nine support staff at the technical level.

In Guyana, about 140,000 hectares of arable land is utilised in the cultivation of rice countrywide and the industry is the largest private sector activity, employing over 100,000 people directly and indirectly. The Rice Industry here produces about 320,000 metric tones per annum, of which 70 per cent is exported to the Caribbean and Europe.

The Field Day and Exhibition at the Burma Rice Research Station is one of many activities planned to celebrate International Year of Rice. Other activities include the launching of a poetry competition, the distribution of calendars, prayer services, a seminar on the understanding of the Rice Factories Act, upgrading the farmers handbook, launching of essay and art competitions, and the preparation of the video and publication on the history of the rice industry.