Current rice production enough for local, int’l markets

Although Nand Persaud and Company Limited has started purchasing rice from neighbouring Suriname due to its expectation that local production will not be enough to meet its international commitments, Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Nizam Hassan says the current production is adequate for both local consumption and exportation

Chief Executive Officer of Nand Persaud and Company Limited Mohindra Persaud, in a recent interview with Stabroek News, had said that the company planned to purchase approximately 5,000 tonnes of rice from Suriname to immediately be shipped to Haiti.

However, Hassan emphasised to this newspaper that rice is not currently being imported into the Guyana and projections show that the production will be enough to supply both the local market and all of the exporting commitments.

“…We would not be importing and given our production projection we have [an] adequate supply for the local and export markets,” Hassan said, while noting that the company’s plans to purchase rice from Suriname could be a business strategy.

Hassan explained that production for the first half of this year stood at 290,000 tonnes, which is valued at $23.2 billion, compared to 203,000 tonnes, which had a value of $16.1 billion, for the same period last year.

He added that while the GRDB had targeted 88,660 hectares of land for cultivation, only 76,500 hectares had been covered and the remainder has not yet been prepared and sown. He also noted that there has been a 43% increase in export volume and a 44% increase in export value.  Persaud had explained that last November his company recognised that the country was going towards a large crop and it saw the importance of expanding its market. However, in April of this year, after noticing the inclement weather and the deplorable condition of the dams leading to the cultivation lands, it recognised that farmers would face challenges in harvesting the crop, and a decline in production was projected. “We sense it, and we promise people, so we start to look at where we can get supplies from and Suriname has always been our B plan and our neighbour and it is available there, so we start take from them,” he said, while noting that it is feasible for the company to purchase from Suriname and resell.

He added that the company was expected to purchase at least 15,000 tonnes of rice from Suriname to fulfil its orders.

Contacted this week, Persaud explained that the company is still exploring the option of purchasing the rice from Suriname as the coming crop has decreased by 25% and the access dams are still in a deplorable state.

“We have to make sure that we are headed in a direction where we are staying committed to our orders and we still believe that there won’t be an adequate supply for ourselves. We know the regional production and we know our order and there is something missing there and we want to fill it,” Persaud added.

Meanwhile, Hassan explained that the GRDB is encouraging the farmers to “try as much as possible to work within the water schedules or the planting schedules” as advised by the Board.

“We’ve publicly put that information out there time and again because when they cultivate outside of the schedule it puts an additional demand on the system,” he said, while noting that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an increase in the global consumption of rice is predicted, which is already being experienced with the growing demands of the respective markets.

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