POSITIVE indications coming out of Cuba show great potential for that country to become another major market for the local rice industry. It is expected that in the coming weeks, a report would be given on those consultations.
This was disclosed Wednesday during outreaches to flood-affected farm lands in the East Berbice Region Six location.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder met with farmers who were very concerned about the welfare of the crops during this persistent rainy season. The minister said that Cuba is one of the more recent locations that have expressed interest in Guyana’s rice.
In the coming days and weeks, more would be disclosed about the ongoing negotiations. The agriculture minister said Guyana currently exports rice to 35 countries, and should Jamaica, and the more recent, Cuban market be included, that would take Guyana up to 37.
Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Allison Peters said reports out of Region Six show that 15,000 acres of rice is under floodwaters, with some amounts of the grain already lost.
In some cases, farmers have managed to immediately sow. Peters said that in terms of rice markets, Guyana is doing well, with Region Six paying the highest per bag of paddy countrywide.
Recognising complaints about paddy payments, Peters related that to her knowledge, the region is doing well, but opted to have one-on-one conversations with affected farmers.
She noted however that Guyana has a few new markets coming and this will improve payments for farmers, once the grain is exported and revenues collected.
In relation to Cuba, Peters said a rice farmer from Region Six was instrumental in connecting the large Cuban market which could soon come on stream.
Guyana has started to move into the Mexican market and they are interested in the aromatic brand also. Peters said about four years ago, Guyana bred the aromatic brand of rice which one major company is producing locally for export.
A visit was made to Mexico by authorities earlier this year, and it was there that the rice council expressed interest in the Guyana aromatic grain.
“So we hope the aromatic brand will pick up in the years to come and expand on that aspect,” said Peters, who noted that a larger shipment of regular rice is however due to leave for Mexico soon.
The Panamanian market, Venezuela, Jamaica and The Bahamas are among some of the non-traditional rice markets that are growing closer to the local rice industry.
Three shipments have already been sent to Panama for the year and another is due next month, Peters related.
A private exporter has delivered some 4000 tonnes to Venezuela, while larger amounts are expected to be taken from the rice board.
Some amount of rice has also been sent to The Bahamas, along with a visit from local authorities for the purpose of expanding in that area.
Peters said that Guyana is producing nearly a million tonnes of rice and must be able to export as much as possible after deducting what is needed for local consumption.
With such positive indicators in the industry, Minister Holder said the rice industry could move to the future with confidence.