BLT Enterprise – Saving Guyana’s Rice Industry
By Malisa Playter-Harry
The true heroes of the successes in the Rice Industry are the Guyana Rice Development Board’s (GRDB) extension officers that bought into the change of how to grow rice successfully, the pioneering work of a young Guyanese company BLT Enterprise Inc. headed by Mr. Beaufort Adams and one of its overseas-based supplier ,David Christopherson of Eastern Caribbean Fertilizers Company (ECFCO) and their consultant Dr. Terrence Fullerton – a US naturalized citizen of Trinidadian origins, Agronomy Consultant, Dr. Ed Pulver of the U.S.A, and the Head of the GRDB Extension Mr. Kuldip Ragnauth and some very progressive Farmers willing to embrace change.
Armed with the latest research in Crop Nutrition provided by principals from Potash Corporation of Satcheshawan (PCS) in Canada, and funding the work of Dr. Fullerton by conducting “Farmers School” in the Rice Fields of Guyana; in 2008 BLT & ECFCO started the process of revolutionizing rice production in Guyana. No doubt there was support from GRDB, but the real challenge was to get farmers to change from their grandfathers’ methods to that determined by Modern Science and advocated by Dr. Fullerton – “let the science dictate the methods and process to be used.”GRDB’s 6 point method was good but the missing link was “Balanced Crop Nutrition” which also incorporates the timing of fertilizer application. That’s where BLT Enterprise Inc. came in.
BLT Enterprise Inc., a Guyanese owned and registered company prior to 2009 was bagging fertilizer and offering stevedoring services to the several importers of fertilizer into Guyana. Fertilizer for rice then consisted of UREA and Triple Super Phosphate (TSP). BLT bagged fertilizer intended for the Sugar Industry as well; however, Sugar Cane Cultivation requires a different regime of Plant Nutrition.
BLT Enterprises in 2009 built a Bulk Fertilizer Storage and Blending facility at Providence on the East Bank of the Berbice River. This was and is a first for Guyana and has the potential of reducing the cost of production of both Rice and Sugar in many other ways. According to Dr. Terrence Fullerton, “the ability to produce just about any fertilizer combination needed to suit individual soils. This not only increases productivity but also improves efficiency and is environmentally better as the farmer can apply only what is needed, there is no need to apply unnecessary nutrients that can lead to pollution, and is also one of the big benefits of the 6 point programme.”
Starting to offer its services in 2009, BLT Enterprise started the process of transferring the “SCIENCE” of Dr. Fullerton to the farmers. For the willing and not so enthusiastic farmers, soil samples were taken from farmers’ fields and sent overseas for analysis (at a very small cost to the farmer). Today, BLT Enterprises continues to offer this service and has facilitated the testing of some 3,000samples and is continuing to develop a mapping of soil nutrition needs (for rice) across Guyana.
BLT Enterprise Inc. has been in the forefront of promoting the use of Balanced Nutrition for the Rice Crop and educating farmers on the “science of rice cultivation”. GRDB had embraced BLT Enterprise Inc. in their early efforts at working together but later became lukewarm. BLT Enterprises have persisted and continues to offer its services and products throughout the rice growing areas of Guyana and has even ventured into the Suriname market. Balanced Crop Nutrition can do wonders for production in Agriculture in all crops.
BLT Enterprises’ formulation guarantees that the rice plant gets all the available Plant Nutrition Value in the fertilizer blend. And its effectiveness can be attested to by the various farmers who have used the product and their comparison to using other products offered on the market. You might be asking: “If the product offered by BLT Enterprise Inc. is so good, why are not all farmers using the BLT product?” That is for another discussion but draws attention to some of the unfair practices and the bind to which farmers have been subjected. Among these are the slow (and withholding) of payments to farmers and the refusal to purchase paddy (by some millers) from farmers who did not purchase crop inputs from the “Millers’ Stores”. These are but two of the injustices meted out to rice farmers and calls for stronger regulations for the Rice Sector.
According to Mr. Beaufort Adams, “When we introduced the Balance Nutrition Concept in 2008/2009, our only focus was to give Rice Farmers an opportunity to change their circumstances by improving their production and productivity. At that time we were of the opinion that for this to be a success we must invite the rice crop input providers (Fertilizer importers) to come on board but, they all refused for one reason or another. After 2012 ,when it was discovered that the concept was creating a tremendous change in the Rice Sector, two of the larger rice mills in Guyana started to import the fertilizer part of the concept(6:25:25) but, in all of these cases, those fertilizers were nothing but cheap garbage, not blended for Guyana Soil. So the Rice Farmers were all paying for something that does not give them the expected or desired Results”.
The aim Mr. Adam’s told News Room is to, “not only to save the Guyana Rice Industry but to take it to the next Level through sustainable increase yields from better crop husbandry practice”.