By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President David Granger is urging stakeholders in Guyana’s vast rice industry to pursue lower production costs and new markets as a matter of priority.
The President made the call at a National Rice Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Center at Liliendaal on Monday, July 27.
Despite higher yields, Guyana’s rice industry has seen more than its fair share of issues in the last years with several protests and outcries for different reasons.
Rice millers and farmers, affected by a lack of market for their produce, have pushed for the establishment of a National Development Bank that would aid them in times of crisis.
When President Granger spoke at the conference, he made it clear that all avenues to solve the issues of the rice sector must be pursued vigorously.
“Solutions must be found,” said Mr Granger. The President said that Guyana is very good at marketing other produce and therefore rice should be no different.
“We will have to continue to find new markets…we are good at selling rum; we must also be good at selling rice,” emphasized the President.
One of the main issues affecting stakeholders in the industry is the high costs associated with the production of rice; however the President made it clear that while Guyana produces a lot of rice, it is still considered a small fish in the international market hence provisions must be made to facilitate lower prices.
“We have to find new ways to reduce our production costs. Otherwise we will lose our markets,” the President said.
He pointed out too that the rice sector is a private sector industry, therefore the government does not want to find itself in the position where it would have to bail out the industry.
It should be noted that more than 75% of Guyana’s rice produce is sold on the international market at higher prices than other countries. With more than six hundred tons of rice produced each year, neighbouring Venezuela tops the list as Guyana’s major market for premium priced rice.
Other markets in the Caribbean, Latin and South America and Europe also import rice produced in Guyana. The Conference is being held under the theme, ‘Sustainable development amidst challenges’.
The programme will include presentations from key stakeholders in the rice industry, deliberations on the current issues facing the industry and examine possible solutions on resolving these.
One of the main areas of attention during the discussions will be on creating avenues and establishing other markets as well as ways of increasing the quotas for export of Guyana’s Rice, taking into consideration the closing-off of the Guyana-Venezuela engagement.
Cost of production, yield variety, proper husbandry and research capacity are other areas which will be discussed in detail. The forum hopes to take an open approach to addressing issues facing the industry.