Works are ongoing to prepare the Demerara Sugar Terminal, located at Ramp Road, Ruimveldt, Georgetown, to facilitate the export of rice and paddy.
This was revealed by Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha following a recent tour of the facility, on the heels of instructions issued by President Dr Irfaan Ali.
“He (President Ali) instructed me that I should come here with the GRDB [Guyana Rice Development Board] to look at this facility, so that they can also use it to export their produce, especially paddy and cargo rice. What they saw, they were impressed with,” he expressed.
“They said that they never knew we had a system like this in the country where we can load from the bond right onto the ship. What we have planned to do is look at what needs to be done in terms of fixing some conveyor belts, fixing some part on the wharf, and I think they will have access to use it,” the Minister added.
Mustapha pointed out that this will be a modernised approach to loading rice. Moreover, millers would be saving time and cutting costs.
“This will end the cumbersome system that they have presently, where they have to use these ton baggage to put the paddy in and then go back to the ship to offload that. Here, when they come, they will just load it into the bin, and from the bin it will go straight onto the ship, so that they can load there.
“This process will be more modern, more mechanised, and will help the rice millers to ease the cost and time to load whenever ships come to Guyana.”
This expansion manifests at a time when Guyana has seen growing interest in the rice industry. Recently, two new markets have come on stream, Slovenia and Estonia.
“We’re having more interest coming, and with the amount of acreage we’ll be cultivating this year, we’re looking at higher yields also with the new variety – the GRDB 16. I’m hoping that we’ll have more production in terms of paddy, so that our export market will increase. That will be tremendous for us as a country, and will bring in more revenue.
Chairman of the Rice Millers Association, Rajendra Persaud, labelled this recent move as an important one. It comes on the heels of concerns raised with Government regarding rising export costs.
“I think this move is important. We would like to thank the Minister for the intervention. The Association brought it to the attention of the Government that a lot of costs on these ports are increasing, and for the agriculture industry, it is very important that we have a more cost-effective way of doing things,” Persaud outlined.
Last year, the rice industry raked in $42.2 billion with the exportation of 34,535 tons of rice. After the new PPP/C Government took office, it was reported that the country’s markets also expanded to other destinations. For the year, the agriculture sector was also able to contribute some $2.6 billion to Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 from the exportation of non-traditional crops.