More than 3 months have passed but Wakenaam rice farmers yet to be paid

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File photo: Rice being prepared for export

Rice farmers who live and operate on Wakenaam Island in the Essequibo River are still to be paid after three months for the paddy they sold in March to a miller who converted their product into rice.

As farmers in Wakenaam, Essequibo continue to face difficulties in trying to repay loans taken to acquire fertiliser, fuel, and equipment, they along with others on the Essequibo Coast are still owed millions in total after millers bought their produce in March.

Withholding such payments to farmers for more than 42 days violates the Rice Factories (Amendment) Act of 2009 which says that farmers should not wait longer than the mandatory 42 days before being paid for their paddy.

According to the Act, the manufacturer (miller) is required to pay the paddy producer (the farmer) half the amount upfront and the rest within two weeks of receiving that farmer’s paddy.

INews understands that a popular Essequibo miller who owes several Wakenaam farmers promised to pay off the money since a Mexico bound ship laden with rice recently departed Guyana’s shores.

Reports are that after being told they would get their money yesterday; the miller pushed back the date again to next Friday and efforts by this publication to reach him were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, millers are holding out that Government’s Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) owes them over $2B in outstanding payments from Panama deals dating back to 2017 but Board Head Nizam Hassan indicated that GRDB is not responsible for payment delays from buyers in Panama.

However, Guyana Rice Millers Association maintains the position that millers are signing agreements with GRDB which has a Government to Government arrangement with Panama and as such, GRDB has an obligation to pay millers.

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