RICE sowing for the second crop has already commenced in some areas, according to General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers Association, Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj.
Seeraj said the major challenge with the winding down of this year’s first crop is the timely payment to farmers, a recurring challenge with each crop.
He told the Chronicle that, to date, a number of farmers in a few of the rice producing regions – in hotspot areas such as Region 2 (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) and Region 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne) – have not been paid in full.
According to him, two of the millers in Region 2 are having difficulties with payments to the rice farmers. Currently, they are encouraging the millers to meet with their bankers to seek assistance in this matter.
From an industrial perspective, the amount owed to farmers is 20 to 30 per cent of the total amount that was purchased. Seeraj noted that when looking at it from the rice producing regions, 80 per cent of the total amount purchased is owed.
Seeraj also said arrangements are being made for Guyana to export rice to countries in Central America. That aside, he said shipments to Venezuela, Europe and Haiti are continuous. Shipments to Belize, a new market acquired last year, has commenced.
The current crop’s production target is some 260,000 tonnes.
Some 40,000 people depend directly on the rice industry for their livelihood, and the industry provides employment for at least 20,000; while in terms of food security, it has helped to secure Guyana’s status as a food-secure country.
The rice industry contributed about five percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013 and accounted for more than US$240M in export earnings. Some $500M was allocated to the rice sector in the 2014 National Budget.