Essequibo rice farmers peeved over late paddy payments

- say no response to request to meet President

A week after Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy publicly announced that the country’s rice industry had produced a record 300,000-tonne first crop for this year, Stabroek Business has learnt that many of the more than 1,500 rice farmers in Essequibo are displeased over the long-standing and seemingly insoluble problem of protracted payments for paddy delivered to the mills.

On Sunday, President of the Essequibo Paddy Association Naith Ram said members of the association were angry over the dichotomy between official boasting about the performance of the rice sector and failure to ensure that the rice farmers who had done so much to make that possible were not being compensated in a timely manner. Ram said he believed more should be done to help ensure that farmers benefit from an environment which would encourage them to produce more.

Ram told this newspaper that rice mills on the Essequibo coast have been persistently in breach of the Rice Factories Act of 1998,

Preparing an Essequibo rice field for cultivation
Preparing an Essequibo rice field for cultivation

which stipulates that farmers should be paid 50 per cent of the total value of the paddy delivered within two weeks from the date of receipt of the paddy and the remaining amount within 42 days of the signing of the agreement. Where payments are not made within the time frame stipulated in the Act the miller becomes liable to pay the farmer interest on the amount owed at the rate of 2% above the average commercial lending rate for the month in which the payment falls due.

Ram said little had been done to ensure compliance with the

provisions of the Act and the implications of late payments to farmers included them having to incur debt or sell cattle and livestock which many of them rear in addition to their rice cultivation pursuits.

Essequibo Paddy Association Head  Naith Ram
Essequibo Paddy Association Head
Naith Ram

Asked whether the association had sat down with millers to discuss the paddy payment issues, Ram said efforts by farmers to engage the millers directly on the issue of late payment have been mostly unsuccessful. “It is not that easy for farmers to get to see the millers,” Ram told Stabroek Business.

Meanwhile, Ram says that while there was the option of moving to the courts against the millers, farmers were reluctant to do so out of fear that the millers might not buy their paddy in the future. He added that word could spread to other mills and farmers who moved to the courts could end up being blacklisted.

According to Ram, letters sent to President Donald Ramotar by the association seeking a meeting with him to discuss and, hopefully, resolve the late payment and other problems facing Essequibo rice farmers have gone unanswered.

On Wednesday, Deputy General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Ricky Ramraj told Stabroek Business that while late payments by millers to Essequibo farmers meant that they might have to ensure some hardship, the lateness was due to cash flow issues linked to delays in rice sales. Ramraj said the increased rice yield coupled with less than robust price levels had created other challenges for the rice sector. Ramraj said that both Dr Ramsammy and GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh were currently out of the country seeking markets for rice currently being stored in silos in Guyana.

According to Ramraj, just recently, government had allocated US$10 million to help cover outstanding payments to farmers.

 

 

 

More in Business

Lincoln Lewis

Bauxite company ‘completely out of control,’ Lewis says

General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Lincoln Lewis has criticized the government for the “demonstrable lack of willingness on its part to bring the partially state-owned… Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) under control” in response to its “continued reign of terror” and its refusal to engage “the recognized union, the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU).” Lewis said, “In my opinion BCGI is completely out of control.

Michael Benjamin

Scrap dealers want ‘emergency’ presidential intervention

Even as the Ministry of Business says it is continuing to create a reformed set of operational regulations for the scrap metal industry, the umbrella association for operators in the sector feels that the treatment that has been meted out to the industry gives rise to the view that it has now come to be regarded as a pariah.

Asha Christian (standing) with children at the local Robotics gathering

STEM vs bread and butter issues in Guyana

By Karen Abrams, MBA Technology Consultant   Two days ago a good friend of mine raised a very important question when she interviewed our STEM Robotics team for her television show in Guyana.

Uneasy: Demerara Sugar Terminal workers (left to right) Elvis Lamott, Prince Davis, Otis Glasgow and Mark Cameron

Demerara Sugar Terminal workers want out from Guyana Labour Union

Having served in various capacities, in some instances for more than 15 years, more than 40 Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuco) workers attached to the Demerara Sugar Terminal find themselves stuck in low-paying jobs and saddled with what their Shop Stewards say is grossly sub-standard trade union representation that is making no effort to engage the company in the matter of improving their wages and conditions of work.

20160729gold prices July 29

Kitco Market

Gold Prices for the three-day period ending Thursday July 28, 2016Kitco is a Canadian company that buys and sells precious metals such as gold, copper and silver.

Sarah and Dolly Davson

The Davsons and their tinsmith trade

Dolly and Sarah Davson are members of a third-generation Guyanese family, which over the years has been making a living making and marketing an assortment of containers out of aluminium and galvanized metal.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: