2015 deal inked… Rice-marketing efforts bear fruit –shipments to Venezuela to begin shortly
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
Dr. Leslie Ramsammy

THE efforts of a team led by Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, to ensure the sustained existence of markets for local rice farmers, has met with success in the last week.The Venezuelan rice authorities have confirmed their continuing trade relations with Guyana via an agreement that was inked to facilitate shipments of close to 200,000 tonnes of rice and paddy soon.

“My team and I had intensive discussions with their colleagues in Caracas and agreed on the terms for shipment of rice to Venezuela, with shipment to coincide with the beginning of the harvesting of the first crop of 2015,” Dr Ramsammy disclosed to the Guyana Chronicle.
Guyana and Venezuela have had friendly relations for several years and the latter is a major importer of this country’s rice, which it has been buying at preferential prices since the signing of an agreement in 2009. The long-awaited rice deal was first initiated by President Bharrat Jagdeo, who had held talks with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez at a United Nations Climate Change meeting in New York at that time.
“We are thrilled that Venezuela continues to be a vital part of our rice industry,” he said.

The first harvesting is about to begin and the Agriculture Minister disclosed that the first shipment to Venezuela will take place just before harvesting gets into full gear.
“It should be noted that between export and local consumption, most of the carry-over rice from 2014 has been accounted for. Thus, as the new harvesting takes place, stocks will be replenished,” he said.
Some 238,698 acres are currently under cultivation across Guyana: 37,710 in Region 2; 22,047 acres in Region 3 (Essequibo Islands/ West Demerara); 8,757 in Region 4 (Demerara/ Mahaica); 107,224 acres in Region 5 (Mahaica-Berbice); some 62,159 acres in Region 6 (East Berbice-Corentyne); and 800 acres in Region 9 (Upper Takutu/ Upper Essequibo).
The rice- production target is 618,000 tonnes.
Dr Ramsammy said, “Venezuela will purchase an amount similar to the 2014 amount, which is close to 200,000 tons of paddy and rice. The 2015 amount with a variation in the proportions of rice and paddy will amount to about the same amount as 2014.”
According to him, the price for paddy and rice agreed on will also be similar to that of exports in 2014.
It is expected that the exports to Venezuela will account for 30 per cent of the 2015 production.
“In 2014, exports to Venezuela accounted for about 34 per cent of the total production of rice in Guyana. It is expected that exports in 2015 will be about 30% of production, even though the actual amount will be approximately the same. This is because we expect a bigger production in 2015,” the Minister of Agriculture said.
The expectation for the rice industry in 2015 is an exciting one, according to him.
He surmised that with increased exports to regular markets, there are also newer markets in Central America, as well as Africa, which will increase Guyana’s rice exports.
“These will be added to the increasing destinations for Guyana’s rice,” Dr Ramsammy stated.
The export target for 2015 has been set at 521,000 tonnes.
Guyana currently has export agreements with several countries in the Caribbean, as well as with Venezuela and Panama. He said arrangements to ship rice to countries in West Africa are still being finalised, its delay attributable to the Ebola epidemic. Also, given the continuous success of the rice industry, efforts are being made to secure a greater foothold in Nicaragua and other Central American countries, including Belize.
He highlighted too that local consumption is expected to see a dramatic increase in 2015.
“The rice cereal factory in Essequibo will be operational by the second crop. In addition, a rice flour factory will become operational, also by the second crop this year. Already, we have identified an export market for rice flour. Expectation for 2015 for the rice industry is an exciting one,” he said.
On the question of assistance for rice farmers, the Agriculture Minister stated that several initiatives are being undertaken simultaneously, in particular, efforts to address full payment for rice farmers.
“We are working with various stakeholders to address some of the ongoing challenges, such as timely payment to farmers,” he said.
The 2014 production saw farmers selling approximately $44B in paddy to millers.
Dr Ramsammy said, “As of today, there is an outstanding amount of close to $300M owed to farmers. Throughout the year, the Government has made available to farmers an amount revolving to about $5B. Presently, we are completing all outstanding payments so that as the new harvesting begins, farmers would have been paid fully for the $44B they sold in 2014.”
He added that, “The 2015 value for paddy is expected to be between $45 and $50B; it is expected that paddy production will surpass one million tons for the first time in our history. The Government is working with stakeholders to ensure that this enormous amount of about $50B can be paid on a timelier basis.”
The rice sector remains important to Guyana’s economy, considering its contribution as it relates to employment of locals and contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Guyana and Venezuela are currently engaged in a few partnerships which seek to strengthen their economic and social sectors.



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