In light of the recent paddy bug infestation in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has collaborated with the Regional Administration and National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) to hold a series of informative sessions with rice farmers.The meetings are intended to teach and train farmers in the use of chemicals to spray for paddy bugs and management of the pest infestation.Paddy bugs damage paddy by sucking out the contents of developing grains from the pre-flowering spikelet to a soft dough stage, thereby causing unfilled or empty grains and discolouration. Both immature and adult paddy bugs feed on rice grains.High paddy bug populations are brought about by factors such as extensive grass near rice fields, wild grass growing near canals, and staggered rice planting. The insect also becomes active when the rains begin. Warm weather, overcast skies, and frequent drizzles favour its population build-up.According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), the first session was held on Saturday, January 26, at the Lima Playground and targeted farmers from the Lima/Coffee Grove district.Entomologist, Dr Viviane Baharally from the GRDB, provided the necessary guidance to the farmers and advised them on the use of pesticides.“Paddy bugs are found in all rice environments. They are more common in rain-fed and upland rice and prefer the flowering to milky stages of the rice crop. While it is good to use Fipronil, it must not be used it after the plant would have flowered; only use it for early growth,” she said.Dr Baharally further explained that one spray will not effectively address this bug’s invasion.Therefore, she recommended that the rice farmers “use half the chemical and twice the water. You are to also overlap the spraying which will ensure the wetting of every plant…for example, 15g per acre… We have to also practice block planting which will allow for uniformity and timely spraying of the pests.”She further said that adult paddy bugs are active during the late afternoon and early morning. Under bright sunlight, they hide in grassy areas.They are less active during the dry season. In cooler areas, the adults undergo a prolonged development in grasses. They feed on wild hosts for one to two generations before migrating into the rice fields at the flowering stages. The nymphs are found on the rice plant where they blend with the foliage. There, they are often left unnoticed. When disturbed, the nymphs drop to the lower part of the plants and the adults fly within a short distance.Regional Executive Officer (REO) Denis Jaikaran called on the farmers to form a management committee which will include represenSome of the rice farmers with officials on Saturday in Lima, Essequibo Coasttatives from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), NDIA, GRDB, Rice Producer’s Association (RPA), Water Users’ Association (WUA) and Miller’s Association to focus on the needs of the farmers in the region and put collective suggestions to the office of the REO for timely action. The idea was welcomed and the farmers committed to establishing a committee comprising representatives from across Pomeroon-Supenaam representing the various farming villages.Pledging the support of the NDIA was Senior Engineer Nanram Narine who indicated that his entity will work closely with the REO and team in ensuring trenches and canals are clear for the free flow of water.At the conclusion of the session, a demonstration exercise was conducted in the State-owned rice fields.