Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy says the country needed to protect the export of rice and the only way to do that is by ensuring high quality rice and paddy.
He was speaking at the re-certification of the Central Laboratory of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS).
A release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said the minister explained, “We export rice into markets that have access to rice and paddy from other sources and therefore to maintain the advantage we have gained over the years, we must maintain the standards and quality of our paddy and rice.”
Ramsammy noted that certification was a huge step forward for the rice industry, GRDB and the country. He said that the certification would allow for meeting of regulations of traceability, which are critical to exporting to international markets.
The acting director of GNBS, Evadnie Enniss handed over a GYS: 170:2009 certificate, confirming that the laboratory has met the general requirements for its operation to test and verify rice and paddy in Guyana, to Research Assistant, GRDB Central Laboratory Marshall Hohenkirk at GRDB Head Office in Cowan Street. Apart from the minister, witnessing the event were GRDB’s General Manager Jagnarine Singh, Deputy Manager Ricky Ramraj and Quality Control Manager, Allison Peters.
GINA said that Ramsammy explained that several actions have to take place to maintain standards. He said, “The research centre at Burma, Mahaicony will have to continue to work with our rice varieties, but the laboratory also must ensure that it could grade our paddy, that we could test our paddy and rice products and ensure that they meet, not just the minimum requirement of the export market, but we should meet the highest standards. That is how Guyana rice would continue to be a preferred paddy or preserved rice in any market we enter.”
He also stated that the ability of the lab to test and certify rice and paddy allows for a common standard for rice and paddy for export and domestic consumption. He pointed out that, “For far too long in many developing countries, we have differential standards; one standard for the people of the country and one standard for export, with the highest standard being for export, and we do not really care about standard for the local market.”
GINA quoted the Minister as saying, “Guyana rejects that notion and the Ministry of Agriculture rejects that notion and similarly the GRDB rejects that notion. We want to make sure that there is one standard for paddy and rice; and that is the highest standard, so what we sell to others is what is available for our people, because we are not taking second place to everyone.”
Minister Ramsammy also advocated that the laboratory pursue the international accreditation ISO 17205 standard; a goal that was also encouraged by Enniss.
GINA said that the agriculture minister used the occasion to signal to the millers, the ministry’s zero-tolerance for any mill that is not efficiently or effectively grading paddy. He advised that GRDB will be extending its monitoring of mills and will hold millers responsible for effectively implementing the grading system.
Enniss warned, “The GNBS would not be accused of compromising any standards. We want to ensure that whoever is involved with us as stakeholders that we do what is best and we expect that the stakeholders would do their best also.”
This re-certification, for a period of two years, can be withdrawn if conditions are not maintained. It involved the review of the manual, rules of procedure, and standard operational procedures. Several intense audits were also conducted by the Bureau to ensure compliance. The laboratory was previously certified with the GYS: 170:2009 standard by the Bureau on July 8, 2011.