— says businessman/planter
By Rabindra Rooplall
RICE is one of the major crops feeding the world’s population, and large irrigation projects are often constructed to meet the demand for water in rice production.
Rice is one of the largest water consumers in the world. Locally, rice farmers are focusing on the weather pattern, which one farmer opined “looks reasonable, since only the occasional light rain is needed to sustain farmlands and refill conservancies.”
Businessman Shiraz Ali, who is also involved in rice cultivation and milling, noted that although there have been many complaints from rice farmers about a wide range of issues, all can be resolved through cooperation, which is needed within the industry.
Noting that one of the many issues pertains to having enough water for cultivation, Ali explained that rainwater and irrigation water are necessary for rice growth in two ways: to maintain soil moisture; and in wet irrigation, to maintain the standing layer of water over the paddy field.
In the major rice producing regions of the world, the crop is grown during the wet (monsoon) season, which reduces the irrigation demand by effectively using rainwater.
Ali thinks that farmers in the industry have not matured. Sometimes sabotage is used on other farmers within the industry just for the sake of an individual who wants things his/her own way.
Noting that the Boerasirie Conservancy, which he uses to aid his rice during production, always has more than enough water, Ali said many other farmers would not cooperate to maximise the use of water, which on many occasions is wasted instead of being properly used for the benefit of crops.
“Farmers need to learn cooperation, which will make the industry more prosperous.”
YIELD AND QUALITY
Ali explained that another issue about which many farmers complain constantly is their low yield and the prices they receive. He noted that many farmers want top dollars for their paddy, but they do not put in the time and care needed to achieve increased yield and quality.
He explained that millers consider important in food and feed manufacturing things such as grain quality and chemical composition of their grain, such as the starch content. Ali noted that properties such as protein, oil and sugar are also significant. He said that, in the milling industry, soundness is the most important factor to consider.
The seed producer looks at the high germination percentage, while seed dormancy is the important feature to be considered, Ali said. For consumers, the properties like colour and flavour will be important. When these factors are considered, then farmers can receive top dollars, Ali said, since many who complain are trading damaged grains, which cannot attract the prices they are demanding.
The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)’s Region Three Field Superintendent, Pooran Seeraj, stated that there has been no formal complaint from farmers pertaining to replanting. However, he said, many farmers may have concerns about the weather, since if sowing their farmlands is not done soon, they will miss the next crop.
Seeraj explained that farmers at Leguan, Wakenaam and Hog Island may endure additional cost in production, since they have no conservancy to depend on and water must be pumped by means of tractors to flood their fields. As such, he said, there is always additional cost attached to the paddy.
He noted that the major rice planting is done in May/June to cater for the rainy season, and harvesting is done in the dry season.
Rice milling, he said, can be a one-step, two-step or multi-step process. In a one-step milling process, husk and bran removal are done in one pass, and milled or white rice is produced directly out of paddy. In a two-step process, husk and bran are removed separately, and brown rice is produced as an intermediate product. In multi-stage milling, rice goes through a complex set of different processing steps.