The size of acreage brought under rice cultivation across the country for the 2013 first crop represents an all-time record for any crop, Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Jagnarine Singh has told Stabroek Business.
Singh disclosed that a total of 81,628 hectares – the equivalent of 201,000 tonnes of paddy – were sown for the first crop this year compared with 78,000 tonnes for the first crop in 2012. He said rains had resulted in significant losses from last year’s first crop with around 74,000 tonnes being harvested. But according to the GRDB General Manager, this year’s “very big” planting effort was likely to result in record rice yield. Singh told Stabroek Business that while the rice sector continued to be confronted with various challenges, favourable prices and high yield had created greater enthusiasm among rice farmers across the country.
The recent move by the company SeaRice Carib-bean to liquidate some of Mahaicony Rice Mills’ debts to farmers, meant that some measure of lost confidence in the sector might have been restored, he said. The controversial Mahai-cony Rice Mills had owed millions of dollars to rice farmers for paddy sold to the company. SeaRice, this newspaper understands, has made payments totalling around $50 million to close to 100 farmers.
Meanwhile, complications arising out of a soured agreement between Mahaicony Rice Mills and another company that would have seen the latter liquidate the debt to farmers in Essequibo have left some farmers unpaid. Stabroek Business has learnt that following court action taken against Mahaicony Rice Mills and the other company more than 30 farmers may still be owed more than $30 million.
Singh disclosed that SeaRice, now a major shareholder in the Mahaicony Rice Mills operation, is assuming a management role in the operation. Asked if Mahaicony Rice Mills will be allowed to continue to operate in Guyana, Singh said that the company would be free to do business here as long as it operated within the laws of the country and honoured its obligations to the farmers.