[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has assured that all rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast will be fully paid by the end of the first week in August.
The Minister was speaking at public meetings in the company of President Donald Ramotar, and General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj at Fisher Primary school, Golden Fleece and Hampton Court Primary school at Devonshire Castle on Sunday, July 13.
The President and his team rushed to meet the farmers following a violent protest recently in Essequibo, which saw the burning of tyres and blocking of roads after millers continue to delay payments to the rice farmers.
Some 19 farmers were arrested and charged, following the protest. The government blamed the minority Opposition Party, the Alliance for Change (AFC) for inciting the protest, after it [protest] was led by AFC Councilor, Naith Ram. This claim has since been rejected by the AFC.
During the meeting, Dr Ramsammy said that the millers must find a way to pay farmers promptly.
According to the Agriculture Minister, the Ministry can take away the licenses of the millers, but he questioned what will become of the paddy. He admitted that the biggest problem facing the Ministry is finding ways to have rice farmers paid on time.
The Minister explained to farmers that millers from Essequibo proposed to pay part of the amount owed but he said that was unacceptable and that they must do better.
According to Dr Ramsammy, two millers who owed close to $1B to farmers started to make payments, while some $23B worth of paddy was sold to millers by farmers across the country and already some $20B of the money were paid to farmers.
In an earlier interview with iNews, General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj revealed that some $400 million have already been paid to Essequibo rice farmers.