Rice farmers have produced a record 633,000 tonnes this year, far surpassing last year’s figures and putting the country on track to obtain US$250M in export earnings.
To date, with 99 per cent of the 2014 harvest completed, the industry has produced 103,000 tonnes more than last year’s production, a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA) on a press conference by Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy said. By year-end, Guyana is also set to achieve record export of 500,000 tonnes. This would indicate that the paddy sale would exceed $45M, and export earnings, US$250M, the report said. GINA also noted that Guyana’s securing a new rice agreement with Panama to supply approximately 5,000 tonnes of rice per month has been a boon to the industry.
Rice production has boomed in recent years following a rice barter arrangement under Venezuela’s PetroCaribe oil facility.
GINA reported that the only hiccup in the industry remains outstanding payments by millers to farmers. As at December 14 there is an outstanding payment from millers to farmers amounting to $3.5B. The ministry has already embarked on a number of interventions to ensure that farmers are paid, GINA said. This includes a specially convened meeting where the millers have agreed that the ministry will supply 700,000 tonnes of fertilisers to farmers charging $5,000 per bag. The outstanding debt is then subtracted through this arrangement.
$500M support to farmers
Meanwhile, the release noted that government has provided $500M in support for the rice industry. The bulk of this money was spent on the provision of additional structures at the Number 56 rice seed facility, which was originally built under ADP/IDB funding, that provided only for the construction of factory. The sum was used to add other structures such as the silos and a testing facility. The remaining sum is being used to procure equipment including lasers and combines to support micro-farmers. It is expected that the Number 56 seed facility will become operational by 2015, providing quality seed paddy to farmers, GINA added.