Gov’t mulls opening up rice mill …engaging banks to address financing for farmers
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder addresser rice farmers of Essequibo
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder addresser rice farmers of Essequibo

GOVERNMENT is considering opening up its own rice mill to solve some of the issues farmers face in pricing and market and is also engaging the banks to address the issue of financing, Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder told a gathering in Essequibo over the weekend.Among the concerns raised at the two-day outreach were: the implementation of VAT on agricultural equipment, the need for more markets to be secured, changes to the rice factory Act, government intervention to ensure payments are received from millers, grading of rice, among others.

According to a release by the Ministry of Agriculture, Holder spoke of efforts by government to ensure that farmers can access loans. He disclosed that the Bankers Association is presently addressing the issue and will officially address farmers in the near future. “We are concerned about your livelihood and we want to see how we can bring the much-needed support to ensure the industry prevails…” the minister is quoted in the release as saying. Another area of consideration is the need for government to get involved in milling. This, according to the Agriculture Minister, will level the playing field within the industry. “It is something we are seriously considering at the moment. It is something which was done in the past and had been successful and it is something I know will be beneficial…We did it when the price for fertiliser had skyrocketed and immediately forced the reduction in price from 10,000 to 4000 per bag of fertiliser,” the Minister stated.

Meanwhile, Holder said that with respect to changes to the rice factory Act, Nath Ram, a prominent rice farmer made calls for this to be fast-tracked, alluding to the fact that the present act in his view, safeguards the millers as opposed the rice farmers. The Agriculture Minister, in addressing the issue, noted the concerns of the farmers, pointing out that had this been raised earlier the process could have already been started, as it is something which was done successfully in the past.

He pledged government’s support in ensuring that the issue is ironed out and in a timely manner. The work of the Ministry, especially its extension and drainage arm, came in for high praise, as the farmers noted that they have been getting the much-needed support from the extension officers and engineers.

Rice farmer, Deoram Mohammad makes a point at the meeting

However, reservations were made with respect to the cleaning of the Cozier Canal. According to Mr. Deoram Mohammed, the engineer’s carried out the work in a manner which would only make the drainage issue worse, as they were cleaning the canal from the back to the front of Cozier.

Fredrick Flatts, Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), in giving clarity, pointed out that in irrigation work, it is done from the front – working its way to the back; however, when it comes to drainage works, the right way is clearing from back, working their way to the front. The clarity was well received by farmers as the CEO encouraged the residents to continue to be vigilant, by monitoring works carried out, as they are the immediate beneficiaries and substandard work, which will only hamper their livelihood.

Non-payment by millers
The issue of payment by millers has been a cause for concern, and Government has issued a strong call to millers to get their act together, as their actions have been affecting the industry. One farmer told the minister that millers in Region Two have been making it a habit of not paying farmers and called on the Guyana Rice Development Board to act.

General Manager (ag), Mr. Khuldip Ragnauth and Quality Control Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Ms. Allison Peters respectively spoke on behalf of the Rice Board. According to the representatives, the mandate of the Board is to regulate services as opposed to representing farmers on non-payment issues. The Act states clearly that the Rice Producers Association (RPA) is the entity with the power and responsibility for representing farmers rights, and should be the entity ‘policing’ the system to ensure millers are compliant. The Ministry of Agriculture has issued a call for the RPA to do its part by assisting rice farmers in this regard.

In addition, Holder has committed to initiating a Public Relations campaign, which will put pressure on millers to ensure that they keep their end of the bargain. Also accompanying the Minister was Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Rupert Hopkinson, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance), Ms. Prema Roopnarine, Chief Executive Officers, National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), Mr. Fredrick Flatt, Dr. Oudho Homenauth and Mr. Nigel Cumberbatch respectively, Chief Fisheries Officer, Denzil Roberts, Chief Hydromet Officer (ag), Dr. Garvin Cummings, Deputy Registrar, Mr. Sureish Amichand and Regional Marketing Coordinator, Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), Mr. Milton Dookie.

 

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on google
Google+
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Scroll to Top
All our printed editions are available online

Daily E-Paper

Pepperpot

Business Supplement

Supplement

emblem3
Subscribe to the Guyana Chronicle.
Sign up to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.