MICROBIOLOGIST, Haribhajan Persaud, is part of a three-person team at the forefront of a vision by the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) to transform former sugarcane fields into a mega rice industry to boost the local sector.
The team’s efforts are beginning to yield rich rewards.
“We have passed the border line of production cost and we can only get better. The preparation for the first crop in 2020 has been completed. We will be planting in the coming days as we continue to see high returns from our crop,” Persaud explained.
He said they were only able to plant 401. 2 acres for their second crop last year because of some unforeseen challenges encountered. So far, this year their reaping has been encouraging.
“We only have 184. 3 acres remaining and we anticipate that we will continue to reap well from that,” the microbiologist said.
Preparations for this year’s first crop are on schedule and some 511 acres will be planted, despite challenges of converting historic sugarcane lands to rice fields.
“We recognise that we can grow rice here but …it cannot be achieved within one or two crops”, Persaud reasoned and added “because over hundreds of years, beginning with chattel slavery, the lands have accumulated a significant amount of iron which needs time to ‘dwindle’”.
When this is achieved “our rice production will be of great quality,” Persaud assured.
For their inaugural crop they planted 200.3 acres and this was hiked to 415.4 for the second crop. It was hiked to 482 acres for their third crop. The current crop dipped to 401.2, which they are currently still reaping. Persaud said their first for 2020 will be 510.8 acres with plans for a spike to 1000 acres later on.
“But there is still some more work that must be done before we can achieve this target,” Persaud admitted.
Several prominent Berbice rice farmers are eyeing participation in the NICIL vision and have put in requests for lands, since yields per acre from the farmlands, and after milling are very encouraging.
Persaud has been involved in research, production and marketing of the local staple and envisages a very bright future for the NICIL initiative.