Government has taken no position on the ban which was recently implemented on aerial spraying of rice. This is according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who met with concerned rice farmers on Friday last.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo
Recently, the Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) issued a ban on a local aircraft company from spraying crops with pesticides and fertilisers. The ban came as a direct blow to Nand Persaud and Company Limited (NPCL) situated at Number 37 Village Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). NPCL are the producers of Karibee Rice.
Following a meeting on Friday last between officials of NPCL and the Prime Minister, Nagamootoo told Guyana Times that NPCL expressed concerns about the ban on aerial spraying. He said the issue is more complex than it may seem on the surface and Government has not made a decision on the issue.
“There is a fear argument from rice farmers pushing to have the ban of aerial spraying which was imposed by Toxic Chemicals Control Board. There is also a fear argument coming from cash crop farmers who claim that the aerial spraying has been affecting their interest.”
Nagamootoo further noted that the Government will not be making a ruling on the issue but has left in the hands of the competent authorities.
“I believe that we will have to make a decision with the advice of the EPA and the Pesticide Board. They are the competent authorities to deal with this matter so that if you have someone who has an inertest in doing aerial spraying, we are not as lay persons to determine what risks may be posed by spraying; it can over spill into areas where people reside or into areas where people grow cash crops or it can spill into the waterways which lead to GuySuCo [Guyana Sugar Corporation] plantations.
There are other implications that I am not in a position to determine so I ensured Mr Nand Persaud that while there is an interest in his company doing aerial spraying for bugs and other types of infestation, that it has to be done only upon the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Pesticide Board.”
Recently, Public Relations Officer of NPCL, Haseef Yusuf, told the media that farmers are likely to lose their crop because of the heavy infestation of paddy bug and caterpillars. He explained that collectively, close to 10,000 acres of rice is cultivated by a concerned group of farmers.
The PTCCB took the decision to block Air Services Limited from conducting aerial spraying of rice fields following complaints to the Board from members of the public over the possible harmful effects such spraying could have on communities in close proximity to rice fields which utilise that system to spray their crop.
Meanwhile, those in the rice industry who are being affected by the ban, argue that GuySuCo should also be stopped from conducting aerial spraying if a ban is being implemented on them.