Rice exports to the Latin American market this year, including Venezuela, have increased significantly and the country has earned more foreign exchange despite a sharp drop in shipments to the European market.
According to data which was provided by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the total exports from January to October were 436,825 metric tonnes, as compared to the same period in 2016, where 440,813 metric tonnes were exported.
For the January to October period for 2017, the country earned US$163,605,766, an increase over the 2016 comparative figure of US$155,738,049.
With respect to the Latin America market, a total of 226,925 tonnes was exported this year, a substantial increase from 2016, when 140,882 tonnes were exported. The significant change in the Latin American market was largely due to the exponential increase in exports to the Venezuelan market. While only 4,651 tonnes of rice was sent to Venezuela last year, this year saw a total of 34,382 tonnes of rice being exported there, which earned a total of US$16,753,469, as compared to last year’s return of US$2,275,193.
The commencement of exportation to the Cuban and Mexican markets also brought in huge revenue. A total of 88,314 tonnes was exported to Mexico and 15,512 tonnes were sent to Cuba which brought in US$25,795,096 and US$8,644,828, respectively. The Peruvian market was also tapped into, with some 250 tonnes of rice being exported there, earning a total of US$103,125.
In 2016, 28,159 tonnes were shipped to Haiti and this year, only 8,839 tonnes of rice have been exported.
Rice was also exported to the regular markets in Brazil, Colombia, Curacao, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua.
In terms of the European Union market, in 2016, a total of 233,918 tonnes of rice was sent to 13 countries, while there was a notable decrease in 2017, with only 136,222 tonnes being exported for the same time period of January to October.
The almost 42% drop in exportation to the European Union nations was recorded after there were noticeable decreases in the amount of rice being exported to Portugal, Spain and Italy.
For Portugal, while 84,583 tonnes of rice were shipped last year, the figure was cut by approximately half, as only 48,109 tonnes were exported this year. Spain and Italy also saw their figures cut in half as only 5,001 tonnes were exported this year to Spain, as compared to 11,810 tonnes last year, while 33,892 tonnes were exported to Italy this year as compared to 77,743 tonnes last year. In terms of the Belgium market, while 9,493 tonnes were exported last year, the market was left untapped this year.
Earnings from the European Union Market totalled US$44,653,446, a major decrease from the US$71,079,421 earned last year.
With respect to Caricom countries, the figures show slight changes, as 73,157 tonnes of rice were exported to ten countries and garnered US$34,647,918 this year, as compared to 65,062 tonnes garnering US$31,003,613, last year.
For other markets around the world, a drop in exportation to the United States of America was recorded, where 902 tonnes were exported last year, compared to 520 tonnes this year. The Ghanaian and St. Maarten markets were also left untapped this year. With respect to the amount of rice which has been harvested so far, the data shows that 2017 has already experienced a better performance than last year. For 2017, where harvesting is 95% completed, 172,973 hectares were sown, which yielded 946,626 tonnes of paddy, and 615,307 tonnes of rice, as compared to the 177,604 hectares sown in 2016, which produced 822,229 tonnes of paddy, and 534,449 tonnes of rice.
There was also a slight increase in the yield, as 2017 produced 89 bags per hectare, as compared to 86 bags per hectare in 2016.
This increase in yield and production was credited to the many outreaches that the rice development board has been carrying out throughout the country. The General Manager of the GRDB, Nizam Hassan, told Stabroek News that he is of the opinion that the farmers are taking the constant advice from the GRDB and may have been adjusting their normal practices.
The rice farmers have also seen an increase in the paddy price as the GRDB had earlier stated that the average price range for paddy for the current crop is $2,089 to $3,300 per bag, ($32,130 to $46,140 per metric tonne), as compared to last year when the price ranged from as $1,800 to $2,800 per bag.