Rice Miller Feyaadul Hakh, has taken responsibility for the mix up of the rice shipment which was exported to Panama, last year, officials of the Guyana Rice Development Board, (GRDB) said.
This was revealed during a press conference, hosted at the Ministry of Agriculture boardroom yesterday.
General Manager of GRDB, Nizam Hassan told reporters that investigations confirmed that the 33 containers of rice which were returned from Panama were “switched” after inspection. He said an investigation was completed into the incident, which found that none of the agency’s staff were culpable.
“We ourselves looked at the procedures, the timeline when the rice was packed as against when it arrived at the wharfs and, for instance, rice is finished packing on Fridays, the containers may be hauled down to the wharfs on a weekend or Mondays, but I can’t tell you definitively that none of our officers have seen the switching of the rice,” Hassan told reporters.
He revealed further that the Rice Miller accepted responsibility for the mix-up and had paid to have the shipment returned.
Asked whether any further penalties will be meted out to the Miller, Hassan told the media that he is not aware that the law provides for such
Reciting a statement from Hakh, Attorney-at-law Kalam Juman-Yassin, noted that the Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara, Rice Miller accepted responsibility of the 33 containers of rice which was rejected from the Panamanian market last year.
In the letter, Hakh noted that he has been a member of the Guyana Rice Millers Association since 2015 and has shipped rice to Panama before, without any difficulties.
“Unfortunately, when the rice arrived in Panama, part of my shipment [last year] was found to be Parboiled Rice instead of White Rice and as a result Panama refused to accept the shipments and they were all returned to Guyana.”
“I had accepted responsibility for this mix up, and I am also accepting responsibility publicly, for this apparent mix up for the shipment being Parboiled Rice instead of White Rice. There must have been some negligence involved and as the owner of the mill, I have accepted responsibility and will ensure that in future, there are stricter safeguards and control.”
The miller also apologised to the GRDB and to the buyers in Panama for any inconvenience and embarrassment that may have been caused because of the problem in the last set of rice that was exported to Panama.
In September 2018, Panamanian authorities rejected the rice shipments after it was found that parboiled rice was shipped instead of the requested White Rice. In recent years, there have been growing concerns over the management of the rice sector, with recurring allegations of wrongdoing involving collusion to fix grades and even allow certain millers lucrative quotas for key markets. Panama is one of Guyana’s major export markets and purchased 66,206 tonnes of rice in 2018.
At present, the GRDB is probing the circumstances surrounding the shipment of 70 metric tonnes of White Cinderella rice, which was confiscated in Jamaica after it was found unsuitable for human consumption. The rice is said to have been found with mould.
During yesterday’s press briefing, Hassan told the media that the Jamaican authorities and counterparts have been tight-lipped about the situation.
“We have since reached out to the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica, but they have not been forthcoming with information.”
Hassan said the GRDB has since reached out the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Guyana for some intervention in this regard.
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