Today we have with us Mr Jagnarine Singh,General Manager, Guyana’s Rice Development Board, Guyana to discuss upon the two new hybrid rice varieties: GRDB 14 and Maria’s Delight aromatic rice.Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture and Guyana’s Rice Development Board (GRDB) has released two new hybrid varieties of rice namely GRDB 14 and Maria’s Delight aromatic rice on 11 February, 2015 at the Guyana International Conference Centre.

Lets start the interview with couple of questions with Mr Jagnarine:

Riceoutlook: Let’s start the interview with your detailed profile introduction, your contribution at Guyana’s Rice Development Board (GRDB). 

Jagnarine Singh, General Manager, GRDB

Mr Jagnarine: Proposed role in the project: Local Counterpart for the project.


  1. Family name: SINGH    
  2. First names:         JAGNARINE
  3. Date of birth: 12th March, 1961
  4. Nationality:          Guyanese
  5. Civil status:          Married
  6. Education:          
Institution [ Date from – Date to ] Degree(s) or Diploma(s) obtained:
University of Arkansas (1998-1999) MSc Agriculture Economics
University of Guyana (1982-1987) BSc. General Agriculture
Guyana School of Agriculture (1983-1984) Diploma in Agriculture
  1.  Language skills:  (1 – excellent; 5 – basic)
Language Reading Speaking Writing
English 1 1 1
  1. Membership of professional bodies: Caribbean Agriculture Economic Society, This is hosted by UWI in Trinidad.
  2. Other skills:  Computer literacy in word, excel, project.
  3. Present position: General Manager, Guyana Rice Development Board      
  4. Years within the firm: Ninteen (19) years        
  5. Key qualifications: My MSc. and relevant experience in marking of Guyana rice internationally.
  6. Specific experience in the region:
Country Date from – Date to
Guyana 1987 to date
  1. Professional experience
Date from  – Date to Location Company Position Description
1999 to date Guyana GRDB General Manager
  • Work with the CARICOM Secretariat and other interested parties to develop the Regional Standard for the trade in Rice (Caribbean Community Standard, CCS 004:2002)
  • Assist Guyana in developing a Regional Monitoring Mechanism for the trade in rice and successfully presented it to COTED.
  • ACP/EU discussions that lead to the development of the COTONOU Agreement and the EU Rice Support Programme for the CARIFORUM Rice industry to the value of € 24 million grant.
  • Assist in the Preparation of a Strategic plan for the Rice Industry of Guyana and a Strategic Plan for Rice Research and Extension.
  • Develop a Research and Extension Proposal for GRDB and successfully obtaining a € 1 million grant funding from the European Union.
  • Work with the Rice Industry Stakeholders in Guyana to successfully “re-enter” the Jamaican Market. In 1996 we exported 7,663 tonnes to Jamaica and by 2000 we were exporting in excess of 50,000 tonnes annually.


1995 -1998 Guyana GRDB Marketing Manager Assist rice millers and exporters to export rice Guyana rice to the European Union, CARICOM and other countries.
2000 – 2002 Guyana University of Guyana Associate Professor Teaching Part-time:  Agriculture Management and Marketing
2002 – 2004 Guyana Guyana School of Agriculture External Examiner Marketing and Economics
2000 – 2009 Guyana/EU Co-Chairman ACP/EU Joint Working Party-Rice.This group meeting annually to discuss and make proposal on issues relate to the trade in rice between ACP members and the EU.
2008 – 2009 Guyana Director Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
1996- date Guyana Rice Industry Representative Represent the Rice Sector at the various meetings: Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of CARICOM.

  • Work with the CARICOM Secretariat and other interested parties to develop the Regional Standard for the trade in Rice (Caribbean Community Standard, CCS 004:2002)
  • Assist Guyana in developing a Regional Monitoring Mechanism for the trade in rice and successfully presented it to COTED.
  • ACP/EU discussions that lead to the development of the COTONOU Agreement and the EU Rice Support Programme for the CARIFORUM Rice industry to the value of € 24 million grant.
  • Assist in the Preparation of a Strategic plan for the Rice Industry of Guyana and a Strategic Plan for Rice Research and Extension.
  • Develop a Research and Extension Proposal for GRDB and successfully obtaining a € 1 million grant funding from the European Union.
  • Work with the Rice Industry Stakeholders in Guyana to successfully “re-enter” the Jamaican Market. In 1996 we exported 7,663 tonnes to Jamaica and by 2000 we were exporting in excess of 50,000 tonnes annually.


1994 – 1995 Guyana Link Rice Trading Manager This was a trading company that was utilizing the trade route via the Other Countries and Territories (OCT) of Europe, to ship rice into the EU free of levy and without restrictions
1992 – 1994 Guyana RPA Technical Assistance Assisting the General Secretary of the RPA in any technical issues as it relate to rice production, including preparation of the cost of production
1988 – 1992 Guyana NARI Research Assistance Rice seed production specialist.
1987 – 1988 Guyana Guysuco Agri. Sup. Technical management of field production
1980 – 1982 Guyana Min. Of Edu. Teacher
  1. Other relevant information

Professional Awards

  • 2008    Business Excellence on HIV/AIDS in Advocacy and Individual Leadership – Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with USDA/GHARP and the Ministry of Health.
  • 2013    Appreciation Award by the Ministry of Agriculture in Guyana, in recognition of Long and Dedicated Service to the Rice Sector.

Research/Scholarly Activities

2005 April –          FAO Commodity Consultant –Agriculture Policy and Trade

 Prepare a paper and make presentation on the issues related to the rice sector of the Caribbean.        

2003-2006 –          Member of a Committee Advising the Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation in Guyana   

2008 Nov. –          Presentation at International Rice Conference – Made two presentations at the International Rice Conference, Meeting Rice Market Demand

About GRDB


   An integrated, sustainable, and profitable industry producing and marketing rice for the benefit of all Guyanese


To efficiently utilize the resources of Guyana to produce and market high quality rice, rice by-products included valued added products of rice, for local and international markets while providing employment and foreign exchange earnings.

 The GRDB was established in1995, in pursuance of The Guyana Rice Development Board Act No. 15 of 1994.

Dissolution of the three State Entities that were controlling the state’s interests in the Rice Industry.

Guyana Rice Export Board,

Guyana Rice Marketing and Milling Authority

National Paddy and Rice Grading Center.

This was a move to greater privatization by establishing this semi-autonomous agency.

The main objectives of the GRDB are:

1. To develop the rice industry and to promote the expansion of the export trade;

2. To establish facilities for the conduct of research, and extending to rice farmers the benefits derived from such research.

3. To engage in such promotional and developmental activities which the Board deems necessary for the purpose of developing the rice industry.

Riceoutlook: What was the contribution of Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture in the development of hybrid rice varieties GRDB 14 and Maria’s Delight aromatic rice?

Mr Jagnarine: GRDB is the Government agency that has the responsible for the rice sector. The Minister is the Official head of the agency.

Riceoutlook: Please share with us about the team of expertise involved in the development of these hybrid varieties. 

Mr Jagnarine: Persons directly involved in developing GRDB 14 

  • Mahendra Persaud      -Plant Breeder/Team Leader
  • Luis Berrerio               – Plant Breeder
  • Gansham Payman       – Agronomist
  • Rajendra Persaud        – Pathologist
  • V. Baharally                -Entomologist
  •  Jagnarine Singh          -Economist/Manager
  • Danata McGowan       -Research Assistant
  • Violet Henry               -Research Assistant
  • Jairam Persaud            – Senior Research Technician
  • Shevon Abel               -Senior Research Technician
  • Naitram Persaud         -Senior Research Technician
  • Elija Adams                -Senior Research Technician
  • Fazal Khan                  -Senior Research Technician
  • T. English                    -Research Assistant

Riceoutlook: Please share with us in the details about the property of GRDB 14 and Maria’s Delight aromatic rice . See below the properties of the two new varieties: 

Mr Jagnarine:


  • Excellent Early Vigour
  • Very good tillering ability
  • Canopies very early
  • High Yielding (7t/ha)
  • Excellent Plant Type ( strong thick stems)
  • Slow leaf senescence
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Resistance to blast disease
  • Excellent milling recoveries
  • Good Cooking qualities

Aromatic Variety 

  • Excellent Early Vigour
  • High Yielding
  • Robust plant type
  • Tolerant to lodging
  • Good tolerance to water stress
  • Resistance to blast disease
  • Excellent milling recoveries
  • Good Cooking qualities
  • Expression of aroma

Riceoutlook: Is the team also working on the development of some more new rice varieties?

Mr Jagnarine: This is the research team that is responsible for the development of new varieties and the accompanying agronomic packages to “go” with the cultivation of these varieties. Below are the criteria that is used in the selection of new varieties:

  1. High yielding varieties (8-9 t/ha)
  2. Blast resistant
  3. Salt tolerant varieties
  4. Specialty Rice
  5.  Submergence  tolerant rice
  6. Medium-Long grain varieties

Riceoutlook: What are the points of similarity and differences between GRDB 14 and Maria’s Delight aromatic rice ?

Mr Jagnarine: 

Similarities: Both are modern day high yielding varieties, with resistance to blast and   tolerant to lodging. They possess excellent milling and cooling qualities. Blast being the major disease of the rice industry, and one control mechanism is “disease resistant”. Therefore this is one of the selection criteria for Plant Breeding.

Differences: GRDB 14 is non aromatic and GRDB 13 is a aromatic.

Riceoutlook: What is the present scenario of rice production in Guyana

Mr Jagnarine: Currently 5.3 t/ha. Projected to be 6.0 t/ha in next 3 years.

The rice industry in Guyana is currently the largest agricultural industry in the country when it surpasses sugar export earnings in 2009.  It is by far the greatest user of arable land with several thousands of families directly and indirectly associated with the industry.  Rice is cultivated primarily along the coastal belt. Recently we have seen the development of one large scale farm in Region 9, the Rupununi Savannas.

In the main there are two rice crops annually the spring and autumn crop; the autumn crop is planted around April and May and is reaped in the September-October period while the spring crop is planted in November-December and harvested in March-April.


Based on historical evidence it would seem that rice was first ‘officially’ introduced into Guyana around the mid-eighteenth century under the administration of the Dutch Governor of Essequibo, Laurens Storm Van Gravesande. This was followed by the French in 1782 at a time of their brief occupation of the colony.  They brought rice from their then French colony of Louisiana in the United States of America.

While the success story of the rice industry can be attributed to the Indian Immigrant, rice was first grown by African Slave. Many of these Africans came from the Lower Guinea Coast where locally rice was a major staple of their diet. 

The influx of East Indian immigrants from the sub-continent of India especially in the second half of the nineteenth century was one of the major impetuses for the industry to Grow. While they came under a system of indenture to the sugar estates they were very familiar with rice which was their staple diet in their homeland.  Re-indentureship, cultural ties, closely knit families, land settlement schemes and colonial policy of economic diversification along with irrigation facilities provided by the sugar plantations and crisis within the sugar industry including abandonment of estates all paved the way for immigrants to cultivate small plots of rice for their own consumption.

As early as 1865 Indian immigrants on the West Coast Demerara experimented with rice production while they were still attached to the estate.  The Huis’tDieren Experiment of the early 1880s under the administration of Governor Henry Irving was also a significant catalyst to the rice industry. Huis’tDieren, an abandoned sugar estate on the Essequibo Coast, was divided into residential and cultivation lots and offered for sale to immigrants by a hire purchase system. The development of some infrastructure, including roads, bridges and sea defenseswere part of the development package of these lands. A vast majority of them seized the opportunity to purchase land instead of opting to return to India.  The end result was that many of them turned to rice cultivation among economic activities other than sugar.  More significantly was the emergence  of other predominantly East Indian village settlements  including Whim on the Corentyne  Coast; Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice; Helena Mahaica; Marias Pleasure, Wakenaam;  and Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast by the turn of the century.

By 1893 some 2,500 acres of land were under rice cultivation: This figure rose to 7,490 acres by 1898; 47,037 acres by 1914; 61,200 acres by 1919 and 134,049 acres by 1952. It is clear that the phenomenal growth of the rice industry by the early to mid-twentieth century was as a direct result of the growth of settlements of free Indians who had completed their periods of indentureship and had opted to remain in the colony with their extended families.

The Growth of the Industry 

The early imports of rice to Guiana were mainly from the USA and this was mainly to feed the slave population.  With the advent of the British and the subsequent entry of a growing immigrant population rice importation from the Indian sub-continent rose steadily.  By the 1880s the colony was purchasing over 20,000 tons of foreign grown rice.However, as more time-expired or free immigrants turned to rice cultivation the quantity of rice imported got correspondingly smaller and by the first  decade of the twentieth century Guyana was not only self-sufficient in rice production but had become a rice exporter. The export of 5 tons in 1903 was a significant move by the industry and by 1908 Guyana become a net exporter of rice. See Annex 1 for the Export and Production data 1903 -2013.

During the first half of the twentieth century Guyana’s rice industry including land preparation, rice planting, harvesting or reaping , threshing or separation of the grains of paddy from the stalk and transportation were done unaided by machines. Drainage and irrigation trenches and ditches were dug with shovels, oxen ploughed or harrowed the fields in terms of land preparation and the rice crop was harvested by men and women using sickles or ‘grass knives’.  Threshing was by oxen trampling over rice stalks and paddy was transported by carts and boats.  At the same time the industry was almost exclusively in the hands of the small farmer.

The Post World War I years witnessed a drop in rice price and a more highly competitive market.  Local marketing gradually passed from the producers themselves to middlemen and commercial entities.  The situation was further compounded at the outbreak of the Second World War.  Instability, lack of proper organization and uneconomic prices for rice were some of the major problems.  Linked with these problems was the intense competition between the exporting entities and the several small rice millers countrywide.

During the Second World War (1939-1945) Government’s official policy was that of “Grow More Food Campaign”.  This call was made against the background of acute shortages of imported foodstuff and rising cost of living.

Some very significant development takes place during this period and these are:

  • Establishing the British Guiana Rice Marketing Board,
  • The development of the agriculture extension services.
  • The Establishment of the Rice Farmer’s Security of Tenure.
  • The formation of the Rice Producers Association.

The British Guiana Rice Marketing Board:

The early exports were done by private traders and in pursuit of immediate financial gains, they purchase at an attractive price and export all the stocks they could have lay they hands on. After the end of the First World War there was a constant decline in exports reaching a low of 2,914 tonnes by 1926.Competition among the exporting agents was keen, and they were continually underselling each other in the West Indian markets. As a result, the producer obtained a very low price for his rice and hardships were increased by the uncertainty of the value of his produce over the short term.

The quality variation was also very common as the method of planting, the varieties planted and the milling techniques were different. In addition, the processing were done by some 175 rice mills with some being poorly equipped, these factors make maintaining a uniform grade an impossible task.

By 1939 at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, conditions were almost chaotic, and the industry was characterized by instability, lack of organization, and uneconomic pricing.  The experience on the rice shortage in the colony during the First World War prompted the Government to establish the British Guiana Rice Marketing Board (BGRMB). This first was introduced utilizing Defense Regulations.The Board was then formed as a Statutory Oraganisation operating under provision of an Ordinance ( No 5 of 1946) which was enacted in early 1946.The early days of the Rice Marketing Board was met with great opposition, by the very producers who were exploited by the unscrupulous traders.

The main functions of the Board were:

  1. To purchased all the milled rice produced in the country directly from the producers;
  2. To stabilize prices through government control of the price paid to the producers and that charged for the consumer;
  3. To adopt better merchandising practices in the sale of rice;
  4. To negotiate prices and quantities of rice with other British West Indian Government;
  5. To prevent speculators from hording rice and thus creating a shortage of supply.
  6. To help in the mechanization of the rice industry;
  7. To provide the opportunity for the improvement of the quality of rice intended for export

After the war, producers were concerned that there would be a decline in prices at the time when they have invested in equipment to mechanize their production. The Board first major marketing task was the securing of long term contracts with some of the British Islands in the Caribbean (the West Indies Federation). It was reported that this control price was not a financial advantage for the producers as commodities prices continue to rise. This however offers producers a stable price for their produce and thus enable a planned increase in production. The rice farmers can chose to sell his paddy to any mill or mill it into rice. While paddy sale and purchase was not one of the primary functions it was a policy of the Board was to purchase paddy, as a necessary means of protecting farmers in areas when prices offered by millers were too low and high milling fees are charged.

As soon as paddy is delivered to a rice mill for the purpose of milling it comes under the control of the Board.A careful check is kept on the movement of all stock by the Board’s District Supervisor. Rice farmers were allowed to keep one bag of 180 pounds of rice per family per month; all other rice is to be sold to the Rice Marketing Board.

From then on there was a steady expansion of the rice industry.  New techniques and varieties were introduced and mechanization began to take root.  It was against this background that rice production and rice exports nearly doubled between 1939-1957.

In 1957 the first major land development scheme was established at Black Bush Polder on the Upper Corentyne.  This scheme covers an area of 31,000 with residents mainly involved in rice and cash crop cultivation.  Other land development schemes such as Tapakuma and the Boerasirie Extension Project were also inaugurated to boost drainage and irrigation and the opening of additional lands for rice cultivation.

During the 1960s and 1970s mechanization further transformed the industry.  From then on the number of small farmers has drastically reduced while rice plantations are now relatively large holdings.

Another significant development to have taken place was the establishment of another major scheme in 1997.   The present Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary Agricultural Development Authority.

Tractors and combine harvesters, draglines and other  excavators, light aircraft for aerial spraying , the use of weedicides and pesticides, silos and modern rice mills, improved methods of packaging and marketing and shipping are some of the positive developments within the rice industry in recent times.

On the other hand, the prolonged economic crisis which started in the late 1970s took its toll on the rice industry as in other industries.  Acute foreign exchange problems; maintenance and retooling issues; marketing problems and declining prices on the world market; growing transportation costs; loss of managerial skills and expertise; rising prices for machinery, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides; unattractive paddy prices and low paddy grades, abandonment of rice lands and an alarming migration rate and inadequate drainage and irrigation all led to a decline in production.

Rice production averaged around 150,000 metric tonnes in the 1980s but by 1990 this figure declined to a mere 93,400 tonnes. It rebounded to 168,300 metric tonnes in 1992.

Since then we have seen a steady rise in rice production.  Improvements in the area of  drainage and irrigation, the introduction of new varieties of paddy, higher  yields per acre and a more efficiently run industry which is guided by  the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).

With the advent of the Venezuela Market the rice industry has shown dramatic growth and is one of the largest agricultural sub-sectors in Guyana and plays a pivotal socio-economic role in the development of our people. Over the last decade the industry increased yields from 4.2mt / ha to 5.2 mt/ha thus increasing exports from 51,000 mt in 1990 to over 394,988 mt in 2013 and for 2014 it is 501,208 mt.

While this catalytically growth was mainly due to the access to the Venezuela Market, the development of disease resistant rice varieties, increase in quality seed paddy produced and distributed to farmers and rehabilitation and improvement of the drainage and irrigation systems, all contributed to the growth.  In addition to the expansion millers have been employing new techniques in rice production and today I can say we have some of the latest technologies in rice milling.

Riceoutlook: Where you see Guyana’s Rice Export after 5 years?

Mr Jagnarine: With increase average yields we will see rice production surpassing one million tons by 2020 and with average annual local usage at 120,000 mt; exports will be in excess of 800,000 tones.

If one take into consideration cultivating 120,000 ha two time a year producing 6.5 mt/ha of paddy and converting this into rice.

At last we thank Mr Jagnarine for devoting his valuable time to our portal