President assures rice farmers Gov’t will ensure industry’s resilience

Georgetown, GINA, March 30, 2014

President Donald Ramotar has congratulated  rice farmers for a job well done, having produced a record 535,000 tonnes last year, and  assured them of continued Government interventions to maintain the industry’s resilience.
Rice has been having tremendous success over the years, and farmers’ enthusiasm has resulted in 2012m production reached  over 400,000 tonnes.
President Donald Ramotar, addressing rice farmers today in Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder, Berbice, where they were meeting to discuss the situation in the industry, recognised the active participation of farmers.
President Donald Ramotar addressing rice farmers at the Mibicuri Primary School in Region Six

President Donald Ramotar addressing rice farmers at the Mibicuri Primary School in Region Six

“I want to congratulate you for the tremendous work that you have been doing. Your effort has helped in the development of our country, as you know we have had the longest period of economic growth in this country and you have made a good contribution,” he said. Guyana has experienced eight consecutive years of economic growth averaging 5 percent.
Secure drainage, new and improved farming technologies and new rice varieties are among some of the interventions over the years, on the part of Government that have been fuelling the rice industry’s growth. Government has also moved to secure several markets for rice farmers, the largest being with Venezuela. The issue of markets however, remains a concern in light of growing production.

President Ramotar pointed out as well that there is the issue of generally Guyana being a price taker for its agriculture products. “We do not set the price for rice. We have to take the price that the market gives,” he said.
The President said that one idea to perhaps address the issue is to set up a price stabilisation fund, “so that we can have a uniform price for rice for as long as possible.”
A section of the gathering during the meeting with President Donald Ramotar and other key stakeholders in the rice industry.

A section of the gathering during the meeting with President Donald Ramotar and other key stakeholders in the rice industry.

He noted that, ” When we have high prices we can put up the money in the institution where it can keep growing, hire people who are specialised in that area to invest and make more money, and when the price comes down,  the money can come back in the industry to stabilise it,” he said.
The industry is bothered by issues of exorbitant price for fertiliser, and drying facilities for rice. Government has already moved to work with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), and the Rice Producers Association (RPA) on providing to farmers cheaper access to fertiliser.
On the question of drying rice, the President suggested that,  ” we should work together and pool resources to buy dryers to preserve rice and hold onto it for better rice.”

Government cognisant of maintaining the strong performance of the rice industry, has set aside in Budget 2014, the sum of $500M to help  maintain its competitiveness. The industry will also benefit from this year’s  investment in drainage and irrigation.

“I want to assure you that every single year we have been investing more in terms of infrastructure in the budget. This year we are putting more money in drainage and irrigation,  working to eliminate flooding, both farm lands and residential areas will benefit,” he said.

President Ramotar pointed out,  whilst the world economy is at 3 percent growth per annum, Guyana has been developing at a rate of 5 percent per annum, and to maintain this growth, Government will continue looking at new ways to improve the industries that have been fuelling growth of the Guyanese economy.

Meanwhile RPA’s General Secretary, Dharamkumar Seeraj said the reasons the farmers have been doing so well are because of the farmers themselves,  working with other stakeholders, the price received and increase in consumption.

“Because of improvement we have had in production, attributed to acreage and yield, we are faced with a situation where we will have to sell more and more rice to Caribbean markets and Europe.”

He said there are challenges, but is optimistic they will be overcome with Government’s interventions.

Seeraj said the Extension department has made inroads in fuel use, new techniques, soil analysis and the results of the latter have determined the fertiliser regime.

There have been noted improvements in production and quality, and he said the RPA stands committed to increasing the extension services.
Rice production is again expected to exceed 500,000 in 2014.

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