Mar 31, 2014 News
Within the next two weeks, Guyana hopes to begin the 2014 shipment of rice and paddy to neighbouring Venezuela.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the local team, comprising members of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is working with the rice importing authority in Venezuela to conclude purchase orders and shipping schedules, as Guyana hopes to begin the process as soon as possible.
The shipment is expected to be made within the next two weeks, depending on the availability of ships, and how soon arrangements are concluded with Venezuelan authorities.
Based on the agreements, Guyana expects to ship close to 200,000 tons of rice at a price that is similar to last year’s prices.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said, “I have been disappointed in the approach of millers. I had personally assured them that the Venezuelan market is secure for 2014. I assured them that the political and administrative prerequisites for resumption of shipment of paddy and rice were concluded, and that logistical arrangements were the only outstanding issues to be agreed on.”
The Minister said that in such circumstances, he had asked that millers be fair in their pricing arrangements with farmers.
“I met as many of these millers in person and spoke with them. I made public statements urging millers to be fair to farmers in terms of pricing for paddy.”
Dr. Ramsammy said that thus far, he is grateful to the millers who responded to his urgings, reiterating that he has asked GRDB to ensure that access to the Venezuelan market is prioritized for millers who are fair to farmers.
“I do believe that prices below $3,500 for acceptable grades are unfair to farmers and I will ensure that the GRDB gives priority to those millers who pay prices that are consistent with this view.”
The Agriculture Minister said that he has also instructed the GRDB staffers to work closely with the National Bureau of Standards to regularly test the calibration of scales so as to ensure that farmers’ paddy are being weighed accurately.
In addition to certification from the Bureau, random testing of the validity of the weights will be conducted without notice.
He noted that similarly, “we have once again discovered that incorrect practices are utilized in the implementation of the Rice Factories Act in the calculation of bags of paddy after weighing, and taking into consideration moisture and dockage (extraneous matter).”
The Minister highlighted that this is an important issue, since it affects the total payment to the farmers. “I have asked for a 100% audit of all factory slips to ensure that proper calculations are being used. Where anomalies have been found, the GRDB will force corrections to be made in accordance with the law,” Dr. Ramsammy said.
Corrections, he said, would have to be made within 48 hours. Failure to do such will result in the suspension of licenses.
The Agriculture Minister stated, “Farmers have ensured that they invest in a significant way. Farmers will invest almost $28B this year in the rice industry. These are mostly small-scale family farmers and this is a significant investment made by ordinary citizens. They operate as private sectors and are not big business, but their collective investment is on the level of big business. They provide self-employment and employment for family members and rural community members.”
As such, Dr. Ramsammy believes that the farmers should be treated fairly.
Pointing out that there are about 75 millers in the country who also make investments, Dr. Ramsammy said that it is only right and proper that their investments are recovered.
“Whether it is millers or farmers, they are all business entities and each is entitled to a fair profit.”
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