[www.inewsguyana.com] – The long wait to begin the 2014 shipment of paddy and rice to Venezuela is almost over. Guyanese representatives from Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and the Guyana Embassy in Caracas have worked diligently with officials from various Venezuelan agencies to conclude arrangements to begin shipment of paddy and rice to Venezuela.
The team is now working with the rice importing authority in Venezuela to conclude purchase orders and shipping schedules and Guyana hopes to begin shipment as soon as possible, probably within the next two weeks depending on availability of ships and arrangements with Venezuelan Authorities. All arrangements are expected to be completed in the coming week.
This is according to Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy. He said Guyana and Venezuela have agreed on the amounts and price for Guyana’s paddy and rice. Based on the agreements, Guyana expects to ship close to 200,000 tons at a price that is similar to last year’s prices.
“I have been disappointed in the approach of millers. I had personally assured them that the Venezuelan market is secure for 2014. I assured them that the political and administrative prerequisites for resumption of shipment of paddy and rice were concluded and that logistical arrangements were the only outstanding issues to be agreed on. In such circumstances, I had asked that millers be fair in their pricing arrangements with farmers” Ramsammy added.
He is urging millers to be fair to farmers in terms of pricing for paddy. The Minister said, “I am grateful to those millers who responded to my urgings. I again state clearly that I have asked GRDB to ensure that access to the Venezuelan market is prioritized for millers who are fair to farmers. I do believe that prices below $3,500 for acceptable grades are unfair to farmers and I will ensure that the GRDB gives priority to those millers who pay prices that are consistent with this view.”
Ramsammy said he has instructed the GRDB to work closely with the Bureau of Standards to regularly test the calibration of scales to ensure that farmers’ paddy are being weighed accurately. In addition to certification from the Bureau, random testing of the validity of the weights will be conducted without notice.
“While I remain understanding and flexible of all issues challenging the rice industry, from both the farmers’ and millers’ perspectives, I believe we must all act in good faith and with fairness.”
In terms of payments, the Minister is urging millers to adhere to the laws of Guyana.
“The Rice Factories Act clearly establishes the rules of payment to farmers and I expect that these rules will be adhered to. I am ready to work with both the farmers and the millers to ensure that the rice industry continues to develop and that the risks and vulnerabilities within the rice industry are borne fairly and equally by all stakeholders.”
He believes that all stakeholders need to accept that there is a single rice industry and that they must respect and be fair to each other.