Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Thursday met with rice farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) to address their concerns in respect to paddy prices, and during that engagement, he announced that they would get an increase of $200 for a bag of paddy.
Minister Mustapha’s meeting with the farmers was held at the Anna Regina Multilateral Secondary School (ARMS), where he told rice farmers that after a few hours of negotiation with the millers, he had gotten them to agree to a price increase.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has spoken with millers on the Essequibo Coast, who agreed they will pay $3700 per bag, instead of $3500 per bag,” he announced.
One such miller is Nazeemul Hakh, owner of Golden Fleece Rice Investment, who is willing to pay $3700 for a bag of Grade ‘A’ paddy. Hahk also agreed to charge $100 less for the harvesting of paddy with the use of his combines.
Minister Mustapha, however, hastened to explain that there are certain things that are beyond Government’s control, and he made reference to an increase in price for fertilizer as one such thing.
Meanwhile, several farmers have complained that they are somewhat dissatisfied with the price given for a bag of paddy, since it is quite costly to cultivate rice.
However, responding to their concerns, Minister Mustapha has said the Agriculture Ministry is constantly engaging suppliers to reduce the cost of fertilizer, so that farmers can have more money in their pockets.
On Tuesday, scores of rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) staged a picketing exercise at the Anna Regina High Bridge, calling for better prices for their paddy. This comes days after farmers in Region Six had taken to the streets to also call for millers to pay more per tonnage for paddy.
One of the farmers on the protest line related that his crop is being harvested, and as such he is expecting that the Rice Producers Association (RPA) and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) would ensure that fair prices are offered.
The rice farmers protesting in the township of Anna Regina are demanding that the price for paddy return to what it was.
“They offering $3400 for a bag of paddy, then check the price for fertilizer, raised from $5000 to $10,600 per bag, and now the rice millers want to pay us lil and nothing for our products… The price for everything needed to grow and harvest our crop has skyrocketed also…this won’t pay off,” another rice farmer had said.