The harvesting of the present rice crop is coming to an end where farmers are making full use of the sunny weather. While harvesting is now moving apace in the northern parts of the Essequibo Coast, millers have upped their prices from $3,100 to $3,500 for a bag of paddy.
It was a relatively small crop considering farmers harvested an average of 25 to 30 bags per acre, while in the northern area the yield is an average of 20 bags per acre. The new price is still a small increase compared to the $4,000 offered for last crop’s paddy.
There is a significant disparity between the prices paid now and those paid for paddy early in the crop. With the current trend, it is expected that at some point the prices will level off. Rice farmers who sold their paddy early in the crop are worried as millers have begun offering more competitive prices for poor quality paddy. This is undoubtedly a bold move to capture a greater share of the export market for rice and paddy.
If poor quality rice and paddy enter the market, the implications for rice farmers can be quite serious. The consequences of substandard paddy and poor quality rice entering some of our markets are already being felt, and with the high stocks of this crop and last crop’s paddy and rice in the country further pressure would be added on the low prices being offered. A transparent and efficient regulatory system is essential to ensure that farmers who sold their paddy before the increase, receive the difference in payment.
Guyana needs a Rice Marketing standard relating to paddy and rice; such a body would monitor standards for trade so millers could not contaminate the international markets with poor quality rice and paddy.