On November 15, 2016, I received an elaborate invitation from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for “An Evening of Rice”, a “Cocktail & Exhibition, celebrating the versatility of rice”. One wonders whose idea it was for such an event. Did the Board of Directors approve this event and if yes, was there any consultation with the industry stakeholders? What is the cost of this elaborate event?
The location of this event at the Umana Yana in downtown Georgetown can be considered a very poor choice of venue to facilitate the meaningful participation of the industry’s stakeholders’. I assume that farmers and millers were invited and if they were how many of them would be able to attend this event in the evening at 18:30hrs, travelling long distances and leaving their homes unprotected in these troubling times of high crime.
The industry is currently experiencing severe difficulties: a significant drop in production; a reduction in the acreage under cultivation; farmers getting almost 40% less than they used to get, many of whom have abandoned their lands out of the frustration over the increasing debt burden.
In these difficult times when livelihoods are seriously threatened, the GRDB is organising a “Cocktail” ‒ to talk about what?
It seems as though there is no end to the reckless spending and misuse of rice farmers’ money by the current administrators of the industry. This cocktail and exhibition provides another opportunity for bureaucrats to rub shoulders and enjoy drinks at farmers’ expense.
Surely, the GRDB could have come up with a better idea to ‘celebrate the versatility of rice’. What about a workshop in a farming community? What about a scientific conference engaging scientista at the Burma Rice Research Station or elsewhere involving farmers and millers? I am certain that any such event as proposed would have given the farmers and millers better value for their money. Then again, what can you expect; this is the same government that promised $9000 a bag for paddy and has delivered 40% less than what farmers were originally getting.