‘Rice is on the rise’ – Minister Holder

DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 5, 2018

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder on Thursday, January 4, told farmers and other stakeholders in the Black Bush / Mibikuri area that the country’s rice industry is in a much better position than previously, despite the loss of the Venezuelan rice market in 2015.

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder addressing the famers during the outreach at Black Bush / Mibikuri.

According to Minister Holder, “We are now on a pretty good path of development for rice because we have secured new markets for rice and we need to get expansion in our rice cultivation area [to satisfy the demands of those markets].”

The Minister added,“between the millers and the rice board and the government, we haven’t done badly at all because now we supply rice to 34 countries and indeed over the last two and a half years we have secured, I think, 5 new markets.”

While recognising the need for the government’s investment in drainage and irrigation structures and equipment in rice-producing areas, Minister Holder pointed out the importance of cost recovery and encouraged farmers to expand their production to compensate for increased investments by government.

“With climate change, we have seen that our drainage hours have been reduced. This means that we have had to increase our pumping capacity… right now we are bringing in 14 new pumps from India to augment the whole supply system. What this basically means is that increasing your drainage capacity is costing you more money, but not giving you more income so to pay for this.”

Minister Holder said with the new markets coming in, this is the time to expand the cultivation of rice to “every inch of coastland” in order to ensure these markets are supplied.

Meanwhile General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan noted there has been a marked increase in the exports of rice and rice products from Guyana in 2017.

“In 2017, there was an all-time high of rice and rice products exports out of Guyana. Close to 540, 000 tons of rice was exported for 2017. The previous all-time high was in 2015 535,000 plus thousand pounds. Last year because of El Nino it dipped a little too close to 500, 000 tons. For 2017, it’s close to 540,000 tons valued at US$201M,” Hassan said.

General Manager, Guyana Rice Development Board, Nizam Hassan, making a point during his address to the gathering.

Further, the GRDB head said that there has been a steady export of rice and rice products to the Caribbean and Europe. “In terms of the markets that we sell rice and rice products to, Jamaica stands out as our major market with 48,000 plus tons being exported in 2017. This is followed by Trinidad with 28,000 tons and then St. Vincent and the other islands backing up that figure, giving almost 89,000 tons going to the Caribbean. In terms of Europe, we exported 186,000 tons worth. Portugal, Italy and the United Kingdom are the 3 leading countries that have been importing from Guyana,” Hassan explained.

In addition, the GRDB head said there has been an increase in exports to South America and Latin American countries, led by Mexico.

“Notwithstanding, that the government to government arrangement, prior to 2015 had ceased, private millers have been exporting to Venezuela and we exported almost 35000 tons of rice to Venezuela in 2017, Mexico, of course, led the way in terms of the imports and that was backed up by other countries like Cuba Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama. We have exported 40,000 tons of rice to Panama in 2017 and we also exported to the United States of America. So, in terms of market Guyana has a wide diverse base of buyers of rice and rice products,” Hassan stated.

The outreach to Black Bush/Mibicuri and surrounding areas was organised by Representative of the Prime Minister, Gobin Harbhajan, in Region 6 to address issues raised by farmers over an extended period.

 

By: Kidackie Amsterdam

 

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