The impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Guyana’s rice production will be minimal, according to Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
Despite fallout in other industries, the GRDB said it expects the crop to perform well as production continues and increases in other markets compensate for declines in virus-ravaged Europe.
The Board’s General Manager, Nizam Hassan, yesterday said all quality assurance services continue to operate normally as there have been no interruptions to the export of rice.
Further, Hassan said that with production of around 700,000 tonnes of rice expected, the country will be able to meet local, regional, and extra-regional demand.
“While there have been fallouts in some of the markets and some of it is linked to COVID-19, other markets are relatively stable.”– General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board, Nizam Hassan
“We don’t expect that there will be any fallbacks from our projections, and for this year just as we had done last year, we expect that we will get over one million tonnes of paddy, which will be equivalent to approximately 700,000 tonnes rice,” Hassan said.
He added that more than half of the crop’s yield has been harvested so far and that it is trending one per cent ahead of last year’s performance at just over six tonnes per hectare.
The global pandemic, which has officially infected more than two million people, has caused delays to exports to European markets, where half of virus cases have come.
However, Hassan said the impact of the delays has been curtailed by a 40 per cent increase in exports to countries in Latin America, spurred primarily by an increase in Venezuela’s demand.
“While there have been fallouts in some of the markets and some of it is linked to COVID-19, other markets are relatively stable,” he said.
What’s more, the Board has implemented measures to stem the spread of the virus.
Hassan said trials at the Burma Rice Research Station are ending as the crop is at harvesting stage much of the remaining work is data analysis.
The GRDB’s extension services will remain on an on-call and rotational basis as extension officers liaise with farmers as the need arises, to obtain harvesting data, monitor for paddy bugs and advise farmers.