By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Longstanding rice farmer, M.J Rahman is of the view that most rice farmers are not in support of the current People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government.
Rahman, who is an avid supporter of the opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – told reporters at an APNU press conference today that the APNU is the only Party which seems to care about the well being of rice farmers.
He is calling for the reestablishment of the Guyana Agricultural Bank. Only recently, a peaceful protest by farmers in Essequibo turned violent for payment from rice millers, with several police officers being assaulted and some 19 rice farmers charged and their equipment ceased.
Meanwhile, the APNU expressed alarm at the spate of protests in the rice industry and called on the government to ease the plight of paddy farmers and to pay heed to the pervasive problems they face.
“The most recent public protests saw hundreds of paddy farmers last week burning tyres and blockading the Essequibo Coast roadway in order to press their demand for prompt payment by rice millers among other matters. This was the fifth protest by paddy farmers this year. Protesting paddy farmers had previously converged on the precincts of the National Assembly last year to meet APNU and AFC parliamentarians. They delivered a petition of over 1,000 signatures to the Minister of Agriculture requesting him to ensure prompt payments are made for their paddy,” APNU Leader, David Granger said.
According to Granger, the basic issue is that of under-payment, non-payment or delayed payment to paddy farmers. He noted that the duty of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) is to ensure that paddy farmers are paid within 42 days of delivery.
He said that the APNU has received numerous complaints from paddy farmers, which indicate that there are sufficient grounds for the PPP/C Administration to convene a commission of inquiry to inquire into the impediments to the efficient management of the industry and to make recommendations for the improvement of the livelihood of the nation’s paddy farmers.