Minister Mustapha’s intervention restored millions to farmers
– RPA President
President of the Rice Producers Association of Guyana (RPA), Mr. Leakha Rambrich has commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha’s support to rice farmers, noting that his interventions have already restored millions of dollars to farmers.
Speaking at the official launch of the GRDB 16 rice variety on Saturday, Mr. Rambrich noted that the new rice variety will do well for the industry; however, there are several challenges to overcome.
“Farmers look for the best; the best price, quality for our paddy. We look for everything that is the best but at the end of the day, how much money we earn from what we are producing, this is what is important for us,” Mr. Rambrich said.
The RPA Head also said there have been instances where millers have failed to give farmers fair payment for their product.
“I would not stand and allow any miller to push their finger into the farmers eyes […] Millers have to understand that without the farmers there is no miller, but farmers too have to understand that without millers there will be no farmer. We are supplying food on everyone’s table and we should be treated with respect,” Mr. Rambrich explained.
To this end, he noted that since taking office Minister Mustapha has already tackled some challenges in the industry.
“I called the Minister and I identified the problem where farmers are being robbed, barefaced robbed; 20 per cent, 10 per cent, 30 per cent of their paddy has been deducted from them and the Minister immediately instructed the Rice Board to come to Region Six to see what’s happening,” he said.
Mr. Rambrich said he is grateful for the Minister’s timely intervention which has saved farmers millions.
“I think over $100 million farmers will be reimbursed and this was promised by one of the mills,” he explained.
The RPA President said he is hopeful that interventions will soon be made to curb the influx of substandard agro-products on the local market.
“We have seen, in this country, a high number of substandard quality of fertilisers being sold to farmers for huge amounts of money,” he said. A designated agency is needed to test fertilisers and chemicals that enter the country, he posited.
Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha says farmers make a tremendous contribution to the development of Guyana with the industry contributing $46.7 billion of foreign exchange revenues.
The rice industry covers a major section of the working population with more than 40,000 people benefitting directly and indirectly from the industry.
“We have been working to address the constraints faced by farmers to strengthen the working relationship and work ethics of the main players of the industry, the GRDB, the RPA … and the farmers,” Minister Mustapha said. He also assured the RPA that the Government will continue its subvention to the body.