With the first shipment of fertiliser from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe Agreement missing its mid-September deadline the Agriculture Ministry is promising the arrival of the 5,000 tonnes of urea by the week’s end.
Stabroek News was made to understand that a team from Guyana was sent to Caracas and that September 23 would be the earliest shipping day from Venezuela. This newspaper was told that the holdup was owing to the Venezuelans being unable to allocate a suitable ship that could carry the load. As a result, the Agriculture Ministry responded by sending a team to assist with the situation and to ensure that any problems this time around could be easily solved if they came up again.
According to an official at the ministry, shipping issues have been of concern in the past and not only on the Venezuelan side. It was reported that while this was a bit of a hiccup, the situation was under control as farmers would not be utilizing fertiliser during this period anyhow. According to the official, “now farmers are harvesting so the fertiliser won’t be needed until November. So we have time… Of course we are not expecting this shipment later or until November.”
The source said, “we take it when we can get it. The Venezuelans are offering it at a low price and we are going to take up that offer.” The shipment is said to be approximately 100,000 bags of fertiliser which will be sold for $5,000 per bag. Currently rice farmers can pay up to $10,000 per 50kg bag of fertiliser. They find the PetroCaribe Agreement incredibly beneficial as it maintains low prices.
Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had previously told Stabroek News that working with the Guyana Rice Development Board and the Rice Producers Association the distribution of the fertiliser would be more practical and the price would remain consistent. He had also noted that Guyana’s rice farmers require 20,000 tonnes of urea annually, but he could not say if Venezuela would be sending additional shipments for the year. However provisions were being put in place to have an additional 5,000-tonne shipment sent in March of next year.
This is the first year that the fertiliser pact was added to the larger PetroCaribe Agreement. In May, Ramsammy met his Venezuelan counterpart to work out the delivery details for the rice export agreement and the fertiliser pact. Under the PetroCaribe Agreement, Guyana is responsible for exporting 210,000 tonnes of rice worth over US$130 million to Venezuela annually.