GUYANA RICE DEVELOPMENT BOARD MAINTAINS THAT BOOMING RICE SECTOR HOLDS COUNTLESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR VIABLE INVESTMENTS.
Guyana has been producing quality rice for over 100 years. The industry is one which has attracted investment from both local and foreign businesses and it continues to hold numerous opportunities for further investment. The English speaking nation presently exports rice to 37 countries spanning the Caribbean, Latin America, South America, North America, Europe and Africa, at world market price. In 2015, Guyana’s exports of rice and rice products peaked at an all-time high of 573,334 tonnes, valued at US$220,768,341 compared to 501,208 tonnes, valued at US$249,504,955. This represents an increase of seven percent in volume, and a decrease in 10 percent in value when compared to 2014. The loss of a high value market was considered as the main contributing factor for the decrease in value. Furthermore, it is significant to note that rice production in Guyana evolved tremendously over the decades. In this regard, rice production increased from 126,702 hectares as cultivated in late 1960s to 190,789 hectares in 2015. The increase in cultivation of rice is a direct result of ground-breaking research by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). Over the decades, the GRDB released high yielding varieties that resulted in rice yields moving from 1.7 tonnes per hectare (1.7mt/ha) in the 1960s to 5.5 tonnes per hectare (5.5mt/ ha)
in 2015. The varieties are also praised for being blast resistant and possess a high level of tolerance to other diseases. Additionally, the Guyana Rice Development Board introduced the Six Improved Management Programme (The Six Points Practice) in 2007. The Six Points Practice is a strategic management practice that will result in significant yield improvement without the increases in production cost. This is, provided that the system is applied in an integrated manner and with precision. Today, over 80 percent of rice farmers in Guyana have implemented The Six Points Practice. Traditionally, Guyana’s rice production is concentrated mainly along the low coastal plains in Administrative Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. However, it was in 2013 that Barbadian businessman Sir Kyffin Simpson demonstrated confidence in Guyana’s rich lands in the hinterland region as he invested in rice cultivation and milling in the Rupununi Savannahs in Region 9. Rice is also cultivated at Monkey Mountain, Region 8. With such faith being showcased in the rice industry, GRDB remains adamant that many opportunities exist for investing in Guyana’s rice sector. These include: • Production of other varieties such as short grain rice. • Production of fortified rice. • Production of organic rice. • Expansion of production and packaging of exotic rice (aromatic varieties). • Making new products (rice flour, rice cereal, rice noodles). Furthermore, Guyana is actively promoting investments in large scale farming and value added products as an opportunity to increase export earnings. The opportunities detailed above have the potential to open doors to carve new niche markets for Guyana’s rice and rice products which are in high demand worldwide.