Guyana Rice: Production Drops with Problems in First Crop Rice
USDA estimates Guyana’s 2016/17 rice production at 0.560 million metric tons (mmt), down 16 percent from last year’s record production. Both yield and area are estimated lower than last year. Yield is estimated at 4.79 tons per hectare, 13 percent lower than last year’s record. Area is lower by almost 4 percent from last year. Please see figure 1.
During the last several years Guyana increased area harvested by 12 to 15 percent per year from an estimated 0.143 million hectares (mha) in 2012/13 until the record 0.187 mha achieved in 2015/16. This year, however, Guyana reduced rice area by almost 4 percent to 0.180 mha. Less land in rice production was due to myriad problems including drought, water rationing, salt water intrusion, lack of crop rotation, less fertilizer input, and slower and lower returns to farmers. Guyana had expanded rice exports to Mexico and the Caribbean and Mercosur regions which improved profitability to farmers. This expansion was expected to continue with government support of drainage infrastructure and Rice Board promotion. Hot dry weather at the start of the first-crop season this year curtailed continued expansion.
First-crop rice in Guyana accounts for 50 to 65 percent of annual production and is sown from January through February with harvest from March to May. A second crop is sown from May through June with harvest from September through November, usually accounts for 35 to 50 percent of the total annual production.
Water rationing in early 2016 also hurt the crop’s potential as dry conditions affected first-season rice in the early development stages. Supplemental irrigation was reduced particularly in the region served by the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) due to the conservancy’ slow water reserves and lack of adequate rain. Please see figure 2.
Divided into water conservancy regions, Guyana has developed an irrigation and dike infrastructure to help farmers use supplemental irrigation from reservoirs while protecting areas through levees from unseasonably heavy rains which could flood or erode land. To help the agricultural sector, starting in January 2016, Guyana’s National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) water authorities begin pumping available water into the drier conservancies, including into the EDWC, but it was not adequate or soon enough to cover the crop’s evapotranspiration needs to limit plant stress and yield reduction. The affected areas were both the EDWC as well as the coastal Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural-Development Authority (MMA-ADA). Satellite imagery depicts the vegetation stress. Please see figure 3.
Along with dryness, farmers in MMA-ADA were also affected by salt water intrusion. Sources report that 40 percent of the national rice area was sown by January 2016 for the first crop of rice, about 0.072 mha, of that area, about 20 percent was affected by drought and another 15 percent had salt water intrusion on fields.
Rice yields have been affected by the lack of crop rotation in addition to drought and salt water intrusion. Yields have been reduced due to reduced amounts of fertilizer and other crop protection inputs for the crop from farmers who saw dwindling returns from lower prices. Slower government payments to farmers for their rice last season and from this season’s first crop combined with overall low crop pricing due to ample worldwide supplies, which further discouraged Guyana farmers from applying crop inputs. All of these factors have led to reduced estimates for Guyana’s 2016/17 rice production.
Fig 1. Guyana rice made large harvested area increases in the last three seasons, but dry conditions limited the main, first-crop rice this year (2016/17).
Fig 2. The Guyana water conservancy regions and growing regions split the country into 10 divisions which are managed through different conservancy and government offices.
Fig 3. Very dry conditions in January 2016 affected Guyana's first rice crop, limiting yield and area harvested. Even transferred irrigation water could not alleviate the stress from dryness which is depicted in the vegetation anomaly.
Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.
Visit Crop Explorer http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/cropexplorer/