Confidence in the Venezuelan rice market has risen considerably with farmers now clamouring to grab a foothold, authorities say.
The disclosure was made yesterday as several rice farmers from Essequibo and Berbice took up an invitation to fill what has been described as a lucrative quota of rice and paddy for the Venezuelan market.
An estimated 5,100 metric tonnes (mt) of paddy is set to leave today for Venezuela under a new agreement signed earlier this year.
It will be the first shipment under the US$35M deal signed in July with the ship expected to reach Venezuela in three days. Another vessel is expected here on Monday and the entire quota could be completed by February, officials of the Guyana Rice Development Board said yesterday.
Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, who inspected the loading yesterday at the John Fernandes Wharf, Water Street, told reporters that the market to the neighbouring country has served as stabilising factor with farmers not having to worry about middlemen and as such will get better prices.
General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj, said that almost 70 farmers, through the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) have taken part in the deal.
According to the Minister, when compared to other markets, the Venezuela one offers the best price for rice and paddy. It is one that the Guyana Government is desperate to hold on to because of the proximity of the countries.
Responding to questions on the congestion at Venezuela ports that led to delays in the rice and paddy being offloaded, Persaud admitted that the issue is a troubling one that is being addressed at the bilateral level.
However, he pointed out, the arrangements are a relatively new thing for the country and new experiences are being learnt.
He stressed that GRDB remains open to other farmers who are interested in selling rice and paddy directly to Venezuela but they will have to comply with the strict checks and balances that are being demanded by that country.
Also witnessing the loading were GRDB General Manager, Jagnarine Singh.
In July, Minister Persaud, and his counterpart, Felix Osorio, Venezuela’s Minister of People’s Power For Food, signed an agreement for some 50,000 tonnes of paddy and 20,000 tonnes white rice, to the tune of US$35M to be shipped within the next year.
The agreement also committed to explore the possibility of shipping other food products from Guyana to that country.
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