…says farmers disregarded advice…GRDB visited after media report – farmersThe Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) on Monday dismissed the claim that hundreds of acres of rice fields, in Hague, West Coast Demerara (WCD) are infested by termites.A section of the affected rice field in Hague, WCDAccording to the GRDB, advice was given to the farmers to drain the fields and apply systematic pesticides, but the farmers refused to do so.“The GRDB was aware of the farmer’s problem and immediately provided extension services. It was determined that the farmer needed to drain the field, apply any systematic pesticide, in this instance, it was recommended that Pronto and Regional at the recommended rates be used. However, the farmer ignored the advice of the extension officers,” GRDB General Manager Nizam Hassan said.According to him, a subsequent visit by the GRDB showed that the farmer had water weevils and had not been spraying with the required pesticide recommended by the team. The GRDB Head claimed that the farmer also admitted to not draining his field despite being advised to do so and was, in fact, applying a contact insecticide instead, rather than a systematic pesticide.Based on a report compiled by an investigating team, dead water weevil larvae were found on the roots of some plants, the GRDB noted, adding that only one farmer, and 3.4 acres of rice fields, was presently affected.The water weevil found in the farmers’ soil by GRDB officialsNo confidence in GRDBTwo farmers whose fields are close by the first farmer’s on Monday said they had no confidence in the GRDB. The farmers added that it was after Guyana Times published an article highlighting their plight that the GRDB took swift action.Ganga Persaud, an affected 80-year-old farmer, said a team from the GRDB visited their rice fields where they found a pest on the rice roots.“They came and they went on the fields with a few buckets and they uprooted a few affected plants. They washed the roots and examined them in our presence and showed us things that we understand normally happen with rice. They saw some worms, they saw some water weevil and things that we are accustomed to seeing. When they finish, they were talking to us and one of the farmers said that if Times (Guyana Times/Evening News) didn’t publicise our problem, maybe they not would have come,” Persaud said.The farmer informed that the entomologist related to them that nothing “extraordinary” as it relates to infestation was discovered, but rather something very common.He, however, argued that when questioned, the entomologist was unable to say why the plants were stagnated, and admitted that the officials prescribed a few pesticides. The pesticides, he contended, were used by another farmer, Omar Dhanny, at least six times to no avail.“What I understand is that these people have not been able to identify the real cause of the issue affecting these plants. We understand that there is something more in that field affecting those plants,” Persaud posited.In his 60 years of farming, the man said he has never seen such a disastrous pest affecting rice on such a large scale.“We understand that they are telling us there is too much water and all these things, but they are just trying to put us down easily … of all the farmers there, nobody felt satisfied with what they did and what they told us,” he said.“We have no confidence; this is what I’m saying, we have no confidence in what they’re trying to tell us and we are not very happy. We are not very satisfied with their conclusion,” the farmer added.Persaud lamented that the farmers remain in desperation as they were just being told to wait for results and fear that their crops, time and money would be wasted.This newspaper was told that close to 15 rice farmers and 120 acres of land were currently affected by what appeared to be a termite infestation of the present rice crop in villages along the West Coast of Demerara. Hague, Den Amstel, and several other villages appear to be hardest hit.According to the farmers, termites began feeding on their crops about one month ago. Omar Dhanny, a farmer who cultivates about seven acres of land at Hague, said, “A lot of farmers struggling with the same problem…”Dhanny said he and other farmers have exhausted almost every effort to address the situation, but to no avail. In the same breath, he explained how much the insects have already cost him.“This here affects me a lot, because this amount of rice here what damage for me, I already (gone) through all the doses of fertiliser and I already sprayed about six times. If you calculate, it is a lot of money, and nobody don’t know if we gonna get anything from the Rice Development Board,” he pointed out.An ex-staffer who was attached to the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) has been voluntarily trying to help the farmers identify the issue and, hopefully, find a solution.