[www.inewsguyana.com] – The local rice industry has created history as for the very first time, the export figure has reached the 400,000-tonne mark, according to Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.
“It’s the very first time in our history, so as of Tuesday (October 21) the amount of rice exported that left Guyana already was 401,000 tonnes. With the contract that we presently have to supply before the end of December, we have 137,000 tonnes of contract signed to be exported,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Guyana’s rice export for 2013 amounted to about 395,000 tonnes. Approximately 58 percent of the rice was exported to Venezuela with other significant buyers being Europe, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries.
Guyana and Panama signed a rice deal in September in Panama, which will see Guyana exporting 50,000 tonnes of rice to the Spanish-speaking country.
Panama’s rice imports average 150,000 tonnes annually and with Guyana supplying 50,000 tonnes, it is hoped that the local private sector can bid to supply the remaining 100,000 tonnes.
According to the Minister, new contracts for rice export are also on stream, but even with those Guyana already signed, it is on pace to surpass 500,000 tonnes.
“That was supposed to be the production in 2020, but that is now the export. Some of you who have followed the story that in January we were being attacked, that we can’t sell our rice, the truth is that we better have a minimum of 160,000 tonnes on hand, because during January February and March we have no production as rice is still growing.”
Dr. Ramsammy noted that even during land preparation, there is still need for rice for the purpose of export, as well as local use.
The Minister assured that Guyana, even after export ‘will still have rice to carry us through January, February and March in 2015’.
“By the end of today [Saturday, October 25] we are likely to pass 600,000 tonnes for production and that too was considered impossible. If we don’t make it this afternoon (Saturday), we definitely will make it tomorrow (Sunday), because production at the end of Wednesday was 590,000 tonnes. We have to make 10,000 tonnes more to surpass the 600,000 which was once considered impossible.”
Overall, the Minister said the rice industry is doing extremely well, notwithstanding the many challenges, one of which is late payment to rice farmers by millers. [Extracted and modified from GINA]