PRODUCTION in the local rice industry is currently at approximately 412,000 tonnes, which represents the highest amount ever recorded in the history, even as farmers continue to reap.This is according to Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who made the disclosure in an interview with the State media in the Ministry’s Regent Road, Georgetown boardroom yesterday.
He said:“The first crop we reaped approximately 206,000 tonnes and, at the moment, we are already about 206,000 for the second crop and so, at this present time with some rice still to come, we are at about 412,000 tonnes, which is, of course, the highest ever in the history of Guyana.”
Ramsammy said the annual production target for 2012 is 406,000 tonnes, which has already been surpassed and he pointed out that reaping is still ongoing around the country throughout Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, but more than 80 percent of it has been completed.
He explained that, in most regions, between 90 and 95 percent of the rice has been harvested and advised that harvesting was done from more than 140,000 hectares for both crops.
Ramsammy highlighted that last year was the first time that more than 400,000 tonnes of rice were produced.
“At that time, people didn’t believe that we could have repeated the 400,000 tonnes production. Some people called it a fluke. Well we have done it for the second consecutive year,” he boasted.
However, he emphasised that the amount of rice produced in Guyana is far beyond what can be consumed locally, noting that 30,000 tonnes would be adequate to satisfy the local market.
The minister said, while rice is also used locally for other purposes, such as producing stockfeed and wine, 30,000 tonnes are still enough to meet those demands.
He said rice has always been produced in Guyana for export purposes and revealed that the export target this year is approximately 317,000 tonnes, which will also be one of the largest amounts ever sent abroad.
Ramsammy said, presently, about 266,000 tonnes have already been exported and ships are at local ports continuously picking up consignments.
“So, both in terms of production and export, we continue to build a very robust industry and create new numbers,” he asserted.
Ramsammy observed, too, that Venezuela remains Guyana’s largest importer, with nearly 60 percent of the rice produced locally being exported there.
In addition, he said the rice industry also continues to support and meet the demands of other markets, such as the Caribbean and Europe and also the Middle East, which imports a small quantity of Guyana’s rice.
He also acknowledged the importance of satisfying and maintaining these markets especially as production increases.
Meanwhile, the minister mentioned that land preparation for the 2013 first crop is proceeding and it is expected that an even larger acreage will come under cultivation.
He said preparations are being made to ensure that farmers could withstand the challenge of the usual December/January rainy season.