Guyana will receive the first shipment of urea from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe regional energy agreement in September and Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy says farmers will be paying cheaper prices.
Ramsammy told Stabroek News that Guyana will receive 5,000 tonnes of urea and that going forward he hoped that three or four shipments could be arranged on a yearly basis.
Ramsammy, who met with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Rice Producers Association (RPA) in Berbice yesterday to work out the details, noted that “Guyana’s rice industry uses 20,000 tonnes of urea per year. We will need four shipments per year to meet the demand.”
He stated that current prices in Guyana range from $7,000 to $8,000 per 50 kg bag. Since urea is essential to the rice industry and the cost has been an issue in the past, the minister noted that having a lower price through the PetroCaribe was crucial to it being a beneficial trade off.
Ramsammy said that in discussions with the GRDB and the RPA, a decision had to be made how to distribute the urea to farmers in the most cost effective way and to maintain a lower price.
He noted that the meeting would be addressing this issue but did not state when a policy would be established.
He clarified that yesterday’s meeting was not focused on just fertilizer and that he has had continuous meetings with rice farmers to assess ways in which to assist. He noted that the meeting yesterday in Berbice was in relation to harvest season and preparing for possible challenges.
The minister did not mention if further shipments of urea were guaranteed. The rice export agreement to ship 210,000 tonnes of rice worth over US$130 million to Venezuela, which is an annual agreement, was renewed late this year, on May 3, due to the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
It was only this year that a fertilizer pact was added to the larger PetroCaribe agreement, appeasing many critics and farmers who have noted that an annual agreement brings with it a host of uncertainty for stakeholders.
Minister Ramsammy visited Venezuela in mid May to work out the delivery details for the rice export agreement and as well as the fertilizer component of the PetroCaribe agreement which both governments said is aimed at reaffirming Venezuela’s commitments to the Guyana rice industry.