Govt intervenes with $1.5B payment to rice farmers

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Rice[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Government released another $1.5B today to assist in paying off rice farmers. At the beginning of the week, Government intervened with about $600M and yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture released from the Petrocaribe account advanced payments for another $1.5B, making the amounts so far for the second half of December, $2.1B.

“At the beginning of the week, farmers were owed about $3B and after payments of the latest advances which we hope will be completed by next Monday, the amount owed to rice farmers will be less than $1B. These are not loans, but payments made earlier so that millers pay off farmers,” a press release from the Ministry noted.

Presently, the GRDB and the RPA are working with farmers to ensure that millers complete all payments before the end of the year.

“We urge the millers to work through their bankers to make all outstanding payments to farmers. While the Ministry acknowledges that a valiant effort was made by millers, we still believe that they must ensure 100% payment to farmers within the Rice Factory Act timeline.”

The accumulated sales of paddy by rice farmers to millers amounted to greater than $42B for the two crops in 2014. At this time, millers would have paid off more than $39B, or greater than 93%.

“While this is commendable, the millers must make an even greater effort to meet their obligations to farmers. Increasingly, the GRDB is making more rigid requirements on millers and we are cautioning millers that we will ensure that they pay interest on their debt to farmers in 2015.”

The industry has now closed off its harvesting, with a final production of 633,000 tons to date. This is almost 100,000 tons greater than the 2013 production and more than 200,000 tons than the 2012 production.

The yield this year was about 5.4 tons of paddy per ha or about 35 bags per acre. Harvesting was from 93,000 ha. In terms of paddy, the country is close to achieving for the first time one million tons of paddy production. This was thought to be highly impossible for a country like Guyana.

Export stands today at 490,000 tons with further shipments to be made in the next week before the end of the year and we are confident of reaching a historic milestone of 500,000 tons export for 2014. Guyana’s market for rice has expanded to several countries in Central America and we are returning to pre-2010 export of rice to Haiti. Brazil and Columbia are also growing destinations for Guyana’s rice.

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