[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy says the overwhelming success of the rice industry in terms of repeated bumper crops has brought with it huge challenges ranging from lucrative markets that are readily available and the capacity to dry and store large amounts of paddy.
The latter has seen the Government making major investments in the sector over the past three years in the area of drying and storage. Other challenges include millers’ inability to pay farmers in a timely manner, need for energy efficient management at rice mills, and for more emphasis on value added rice production.
These constraints notwithstanding, rice and paddy production is 15.4 percent higher this year when compared to the corresponding period last year, while exports are 23.4 percent higher. Minister Ramsammy said the Ministry is sparing no effort to have more rice exported thereby reducing the need for storage space.
He noted that if the sector has to store and keep rice for an ideal pricing, then there would not be enough storage capacity and this is a major area of concern.
In 2010, the sector struggled tremendously to meet the market demands for both rice and paddy.
“On top of the European and Caribbean markets, Venezuela came on board…and Venezuela took up 70 percent of all our rice and paddy and because of the price differential most of our farmers and millers opted for the Venezuela market and gave up some of the European and Caribbean markets. We have had to recover those markets in the last year…we are now looking for new markets.”
The Agriculture Ministry has managed to attract markets in Haiti, Panama and Belize to which a significant amount of rice and paddy is already being sold. Additionally, the Ministry is looking to capture markets in Guatemala and several African countries.
Minister Ramsammy explained that Guyana has the capability to sell all 600,000 tonnes of rice produced almost immediately, but the country is used to premium price and in recent times, large world market competitors (particularly those from the Asian continent) have been slowly infiltrating the country’s market domain, resulting in a decline in pricing.
[Extracted and modified from GINA]