– insist on fair deal for industry
Rice Farmers and Members of the two and a half -year- old Essequibo Paddy Farmer’s
Organization, continue to feel that they have not being given a “fair deal” by senior officials of the Guyana Rice Development Board and the Guyana Rice Producers’ Association.
Over the years they have agitated for better prices for their paddy, proper drainage, proper dock age and weight for their product.
The organisations held another meeting on Saturday to voice their concerns and make proposals for the way forward.
The meeting which was intended to facilitate the presence of President Donald Romotar, Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and General Manager of GRBD, Jagnarine Singh was held at the Community Center Ground at Anna Regina. Although written invitations were sent to the officials, none of them attended.
Regional Councillor and President of the Essequibo Farmer’s Organization, Naith Ram expressed his disappointment regarding the absence of the invitees and informed his fellow rice farmers who turned up in numbers that the meeting was geared to engage the varying government representatives in order to garner transparency and comprehensive understanding about the rice industry. The meeting dealt with the prolonged problems farmers continue to face and the way forward, with specific emphasis on new markets and the prices for paddy for the autumn crop.
Ram lamented that the issue is not political and stressed that the prolonged problems faced by farmers, especially in the Region is a “bread and butter issue.” “We are all fighting for what we want in the rice industry, we want a fair share.”
Ram is insisting that rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast have the right to demand the appropriate answers from representatives of GRDB and RPA since they were the ones who were placed to represent all of the farmers.
Tajeram Shewchand,a/k “brother Sono”,an executive member of the Essequibo Paddy Farmers Organization said that like farmers, his organization is demanding transparency and satisfaction from members of GRDB and RPA. He said it cost a rice farmer $3000 dollars to produce one bag of paddy and if farmers receive the exact cost for a bag of paddy, the deal is not fair.
Sewcharran reminded that farmers have to employ almost eighty-five percent of labourers. Additionally they are forced to take loans from the banks to go into the fields. He said the situation farmers are faced with is a serious one.
He reminded too that in the past while farmers used to get “A” grade for their paddy, most farmers today would get “C” grade, which would result in less money for their paddy.
Another executive, Alex George, said his organization’s mission was to augur inclusiveness at the bargaining table. At the conclusion of the meeting farmers decided that they would take their complaints to the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown.
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