In Region Two paddy farmers have nobody to represent them and see to it that they get justice for their hard work and labour.
President Jagdeo has been calling on us farmers and saying we must plant and produce more food. For many years and until now, we farmers have produced tons of paddy every crop to supply the Guyanese people with rice, and export rice to the Caribbean countries. Any country hit by disaster we are donating rice to them. In the entire Region 2 where paddy is cultivated there is no other employment that we farmers can turn to, only paddy farming.
Government has constructed a drying floor at Walton Hall in Region 2 costing $15M. The authority told us farmers we must dry and store our paddy to get better prices from those rice millers. That drying floor cannot solve problems we are facing. Eighty percent of farmers who reaped their crop, sold their paddy to those millers. We got $3,000 per bag of paddy.
Twenty percent of farmers dried and store their paddy for one or two months waiting to get more money for their paddy. When those farmers took their paddy to sell to those millers they the (millers) told those farmers their paddy is not up to standard. The millers said only $1,500 can be paid for a bag of the paddy. Farmers were forced to settle for that price because there was nowhere to turn to. Farmers lost!
The authority telling those rice millers to pay farmers in 54 days. The authority gives those rice millers too much priority over farmers. The authority should investigate and see to it that millers have capital (money) before purchasing farmers’ paddy.
When we farmers sell our paddy to rice millers they take possession of our goods right away and to they should pay us right away for our goods so we can get money early to prepare our land and sow our crop in time; so our land can produce more paddy per acre.
Cane cutters on those sugar estates they don’t produce cane, they only cut the cane. When the factory closes off milling for the crop, management cannot tell those cane cutters to wait 54 days for payment. They down tools and strike and demand what they want and they get it!
Region 2 rice millers are begging farmers for their paddy but when they buy your paddy and you go for your payment they shut their gates and leave you outside to stand in the rain, you have to go home empty handed.
Those said millers, telling rice farmers, government can’t tell them when to pay rice farmers. They pay when they feel like. Some rice millers bought farmers’ paddy in May 2010, when you go for payment they give you a date for September 2010 for payment. We farmers owe the bank, where are we going to find money to pay the bank while interest is growing daily. Where are we going to find money to work the land and maintain our family? We depend on the money that millers owe us to carry on our work.
Rice millers send their children out the country to further their education. We farmers who are producing the paddy many weeks we can’t afford to send our children to school. If things continue like this we farmers will not be able to educate our children.
People leave Guyana every day and go to other countries and work to better their position. In Guyana the rich are getting richer every day, the poor are getting poorer every day, which is why those people have to leave the country.
Come on Mr. President, we farmers don’t want talking and talking, we need action so things can come in place in the right way, so we farmers and their families can inherit what we sweat and work for.