Mar 19, 2017 News
By Brushell Blackman
On the back of the Venezuela and Guyana rice deal collapsing, it was reported in some sections of
the media that Guyana had clinched a deal with Mexico to export 150,000 tonnes of rice to that country.
However, Kaieteur News has seen documents that say otherwise. In fact, the 150,000 tonnes is to be shared between a number of countries including Argentina, India, Italy, Uruguay, Vietnam and the United States. Guyana was not mentioned in that document.
According to an official gazette published in Mexico, the deal which will benefit six countries caters for the importation of five categories of rice. Private companies will be granted quotas no more than 10,000 tonnes and this arrangement is for the period March 2, to December 31, next.
But Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, was adamant that Guyana is to benefit from the Mexico arrangement but he could not say how many tonnes farmers in Guyana will be allowed to export to Mexico. Holder said that the Guyana Rice Millers Association will be better able to say how much the local rice industry will be exported to that country.
Asked about the announcement in the press about the 150,000 tonnes that Guyana is supposedly meant to export to Mexico; the minister said that he was at a loss to explain where that information came from. While the source of the story was the Ministry of Agriculture, Holder said that the information did not come from his office.
According to Dr. Turhane Doerga, a rice expert and rice miller, based on his interaction with the Mexican authorities, Guyana is not listed to benefit from this deal. Doerga said that the countries that were listed in the gazette have already swallowed up the quotas and nothing is left for Guyana to benefit from.
The rice miller is calling on the government to be forthcoming with the rice industry. It should admit that there is no deal for Guyana. Doerga said what is painful is that the deal was emblazoned on the front page of a newspaper and rice millers were anxiously looking forward to tapping into the deal.
Additionally, he said that farmers are walking around with the newspaper in jubilant mood in anticipation of seeing some financial gains with the dawn of the deal.
Doerga said that the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is providing very little information to millers and he has been inundated with questions and queries relating to the Mexico deal.
In a frank assessment of the work of the Ministry of Agriculture, Doerga said that he has no ‘beef’ with any of the officials there but he can only speak based on the performance of an industry that he holds very dear.
He is of the view that more needs to be done by the Minister of Agriculture since the rice industry is rapidly declining and there is a glaring absence of direction by that ministry. He said it was for reasons like this that Alesie Rice Group pulled the plug on its operations in Guyana.
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