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.
NICIL boss says GuySuCo divestment halted due to unstable political situation
Divestment of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) remains on pause while Guyana’s political situation remains an unstable one.
National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL) has been seeking investors for the closed sugar estates and their assets, but acting Chief Executive Officer Colvin Heath-London said that for now, this is all on pause until political events are resolved.
“In terms of the divestment, we have several investors lined up. But they’re all not going forward until the political situation returns to some normalcy. So, it’s wait-and-see until then.”
He explained that this is the situation with all the estates being divested.
Zeroing in on one of those estates, this publication requested clarity on the status of Wales. In response, Heath-London said private farmers and some former sugar workers have taken up land at Wales for farming.
He also explained that Amazonia Expert Services Limited, the company granted a 20-year lease last year by the Government to cultivate and process coconuts, has started its preparations.
Since closure of the Wales, East Demerara, Rose Hall and Skeldon estates, and the firing of thousands of sugar workers, Government had moved to divest the facilities.
United Kingdom (UK) company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was contracted to carrying out valuations of GuySuCo’s assets up for sale, and had invited expressions of interest from potential buyers.
Initially, 10 expressions of interest were received, but only five companies eventually entered bids.
Extra Virgin Coconut Products (EVCP) and Amazonia Expert Services Incorporated (AESI) are the two companies which received 680 acres of land from the estate’s assets. However, just prior to elections in March of this year, former sugar workers were lamenting the fact that they were still waiting on the land grants that the APNU/AFC Administration had promised they would receive to continue their livelihood.
Many sugar workers, throughout this time, have vented their disappointment in the coalition Government for “neglecting” their woes and interests.
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