–in keeping with landmark deal after 18-year hiatus
A SHIPMENT of rice, some US$3.5M worth of it, is on its way to Cuba as part of an agreement between Guyana’s Nand Persaud and Company Limited and the Cuban company, ALIMPORT.
As the 7,500 metric tonnes of rice was being loaded at Muneshwer’s water Street wharf to be shipped on Monday, General Manager (Ag) of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Allison Peters, said it was a `historic moment for both countries, given that Guyana has not shipped rice to Cuba since 1999.
That shipment, which was handled by Mars Rice Milling Company, weighed 400 tonnes, which at the time was valued around US$138,000.
Peters said that since then, although Guyana exports rice to many Caribbean countries, they have not been able to tap into the Cuban market until now.
According to a recent press statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, the rice deal was inked just less than two months ago between Nand Persaud and the Cuban company.
Guyana’s Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, Halim Majeed, had described the visit as a means to further strengthen the country’s economic relations with Cuba.
According to Ambassador Majeed, under the terms of the contract, Nand Persaud Limited is expected to ship 15,000 tonnes of rice to Cuba between this month and October. The local company is also expected to send another shipment in 2018.
A representative from ALIMPORT, Reynaldo Labora, told members of the local media that the agreement between the two companies has been in the making for a long time, so he is confident that it is the beginning of a long-lasting business relationship between the local rice company and Guyana.
Labora commended the GRDB for their work in ensuring that the quality of rice is up to standard.
“We always make tenders throughout the Caribbean, looking for the best quality and conditions; we found that Nand Persaud of Guyana had good quality rice,” he said, adding that he is optimistic about an increase in the amount of rice that might be shipped to Cuba in years to come.
The Cuban expressed his belief that Caribbean countries should support each other in any way possible.
Peters also added that the road does not stop there for the GRDB or private exporters, because they are always looking for contracts for the rice industry.
The Georgetown Operations Manager for Nand Persaud and Company Limited, Jai Keshwani, asked members of the media to help put Guyana’s rice on the regional and international markets.
After a downward spiral, rice seems to be climbing its way back up the ladder. The Ministry of Agriculture had reported that harvesting of the first crop of 2017 ended with a total of 89,290 hectares, 23 per cent over the first crop in 2016.
For the first crop of 2017, exports amounted to 239,442 metric tonnes, some 60,000 tonnes less than that for the same period last year. From the exports, foreign exchange earnings from rice and paddy amounted to US$92,026.
The GRDB has projected a second-crop target of 85,021 hectares. The board is also assisting farmers and has commenced issuing fertiliser to farmers on credit, the provision of quality seed paddy is also being assured.