May 12, 2020
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first_imgPaddy bug infestationThe Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is urging farmers affected by paddy bugs to destroy the adult bugs, despite the age of their crops.So far, dozens of farmers across three different administrative regions have confirmed that their farms are infested with the dreaded pest, which has already resulted in millions of dollars in losses. The Rice Board said that dams and meres must be free of grass weeds at all times as this provides a good source of food and shelter for the paddy bugs, while issuing tips for farmers to better manage their rice fields.More importantly, GRDB explained, “Spraying is necessary if the number of bugs is one per metre square or one bug for every two sweeps…farmers are advised to use two motor blowers per acre at a distance of 22 feet or 11 footsteps apart when spraying”.It also encouraged farmers to monitor their fields daily while the crop is in its flowering stage, especially early in the morning before 08:00h or late in the afternoon after 16:00h until the grains mature fully.Additionally, the Rice Board noted that egg masses should be destroyed but if they are already hatched, spot spraying can be done with a contact insecticide.Last week, former Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy called out the Government and the GRDB for not responding to the paddy bug infestation which has already resulted in millions of losses for rice farmers.Ramsammy argued that the Government and GRDB’s move to dismiss the challenges and problems rice farmers face while insisting rice is a Private Sector activity is “dangerous” and “repulsive” as rice farmers and millers invest more than $50 billion annually into the economy.The former Minister said he knows for a fact that the paddy bug infestation has led to the loss of almost 20 per cent of the rice crop in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and even worse losses in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam). Over in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), the problem is equally devastating to farmers, he added.For Regions Two and Six alone, some 500,000 bags of paddy were lost, which means $1.4 billion in revenue for each region.Meanwhile, in Region Five, farmers reportedly lost more than 600,000 bags of paddy as a result of the paddy bugs and red rice.Ramsammy was keen to note that the paddy bug is not the only issue affecting farmers as he made mention specifically of floods and dry conditions, accompanied by clogged canals and dysfunctional pumps among others.These issues, according to him, are not being addressed by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) nor the Agriculture Ministry.He predicted that overall, Guyanese rice farmers will lose about $9 billion this year, having already lost more than $8 billion in 2018.last_img

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