Rice agriculture in Nickerie

by Raj

Rice is the staple food for most population groups in Suriname. Rice is grown mainly in the Nickerie and Coronie districts. Rice is also cultivated by the maroons at the Beneden-Cottica (district Marowijne), (different types of swamped rice) and at the Boven-Tapanahony and Boven-Suriname (different types of dry land rice). The Maroons cultivate rice to meet their own needs.

The rice fields in Nickerie lie on the coastal plain and they are very suitable for wet rice cultivation. Thanks to the switch to machine agriculture, Suriname is able to produce enormous quantities of rice. The Stichting Machinale Landbouw, a state-owned company in Wageningen was set up as a project by Dutch experts in the 1950s and for decades belonged to the most important centers in the world for the development of new rice varieties.

Compared to other parts of Suriname it is advantageous to do (wet) rice construction in Nickerie, because Nickerie has: fertile clay soils, plenty of fresh water, two growing seasons per year, few rice diseases, entrepreneurial rice producers and workers (processors). Contract workers were already used to growing rice and this was an extra impulse to practice rice as their means of existence in Nickerie. In 1890 rice production started in Nickerie. In 1897 the production of rice was about 11,350 kg. In the beginning of the 20th century, Nickerie contributed 8% to rice production. By placing a steam peller (steam mill) in 1905, Nickerie was irrevocably declared a rice district. In addition to the peeling, irrigation systems were installed and swamps were pumped in.

In 1910 the flourishing of the rice district began, because more was done on rice cultivation. In 1929, Nickerie was seen as “a district where the small farmers are heading for a promising future ….” During the Second World War there was a small stagnation in rice production because the policy of the United States paid more attention to the mining industry. Nickerie flourished again in the 1960s through both small-scale and large-scale rice cultivation.

The country consists for a large part of swamp parts in Nickerie. That is why it is important to plunge the hatchery areas. The workers who are employed work about 8 hours a day and sometimes even shorter. Due to the use of modern machines and seeding methods the involvement of the owners has been increased and the deployment of laborers is only 2-8%. The use of modern machines has contributed to the increase in paddy production. It has also resulted in no high costs being incurred during production. Within a short time a large area can be processed by the machines. Because machines are being purchased and large surfaces can be processed, rice cultivation has become very attractive for more entrepreneurs to invest in this sector. Some of the major rice companies include: Manglie’s rice company, Baitalie NV, Alesie NV, Tjin A Djie, Sun Rice, Ishaak, Rijstpak NV, Fal NV, Karaya, Sahara NV, etc. Some polders where rice cultivation is done are as follows: Small – Henar polder, Paradise, Longmay, Sawmillkreekpolder, Waldeck, 11. (Source: Rice production in Suriname, author Asha)

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