The 2017 paddy crop is in an advanced stage in Region Two, although there is delayed harvesting in some parts of the coast. The paddy output per acre at the moment is 50 bags per acre due to the favourable weather conditions, and the total paddy production is now forecast at 1.2 million bags. Of the 35,500 acres which were sown, approximately 35,300 acres are expected to be harvested. The late harvest crop was seriously affected by flooding and duckweed.
At the moment the prices being offered by millers are $2,300. For A, B and C grade, some millers are taking as much as 146 lbs per bag for the field paddy. There is no precise grading being done to determine how the millers are arriving at the grades. In the past grades were determined by factors and were calculated. Today graders are using visual grading to arrive at the grades, and this is an unfair prodcedure for the farmers.
At present farmers can hardly escape the vagaries of the monopoly by millers whose decision to buy is related to the reaping and transporting of the farmer’s crops. Some millers have their own combines, lorry, tractor and trailers which make the job easy for the farmer, so he has no other alternative but to give the miller his ripe rice.
This has caused the farmer to be caught in an inescapable net of exploitation; the miller who owns a number of items of machinery is dominant. During the period 2016-17, a strong wind of change has been taking place in the rice industry, particularly in Essequibo. The millers during this period have been reaping the harvest of the farmers who were toiling under harsh and back-breaking methods of production.