As the son of a rice farmer, who has planted rice for many decades myself, I believe that the time has come when we all need to take stock of the way in which we treat farmers and in particular, rice farmers. Today, rice is being produced at starvation wages and Mr Jinnah Rahman is right when he states that farming is a business and like other businesses it has to be profitable.
It is clear to me that the Guyana Rice Producers Association (GRPA) has sold out the farmers and has been using the organization for narrow political ends.
The GRPA has always been a political arm of the PPP; likewise the sugar workers’ union, GAWU.
The time has come for the people to take back their organisations and run them in their interest and not as tools for one political group or the other.
Both General Secretaries of GAWU and the GRPA are known political activists of the PPP.
It is shameless to see them attack Jinnah Rahman, who has been in the forefront for decades fighting for the rights of all farmers, not only rice farmers.
For the record, his father, Mr Abdool Rahman, is a founding member of the Guyana Rice Producers Association, which was set up on the island of Wakenaam.
Mr A Rahman sat on the Executive Committee of the Rice Producers’ Association for many years and was also a member of the Rice Board, which was then called the Guyana Rice Marketing Board.
The industry was then in the hands of the farmers, made possible under the good governance of Dr Cheddi Jagan, who cared for the farmers and workers. Today, the current PPP has betrayed Cheddi and the rice farmers for selfish purposes. The farmers are right in asking that their industry be given back to them and that there be a clear separation from party politics and their bread and butter issues.
The steps that the farmers have taken to form an alliance with the Guyana Trades Union Congress is indeed a historic one that will bring greater good for all of us. The rice farmers’ cause must be supported by all rice eaters (consumers) or else rice will no longer be planted in this country.