AGRICULTURE Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday met with rice farmers from the Essequibo Coast, Region Two, to address concerns over the high price of fertilisers in the region.
The farmers complained that due to the cost of the fertilisers, they are finding it hard to move forward with their cultivation, and are calling on the government to intervene in the matter.
After listening to their concerns, Minister Mustapha told the farmers that the high cost of fertiliser will be reduced, and immediately contacted one of the main suppliers in the region and was able to influence him to lower the cost, a release said.
“When I heard about the cost of the fertiliser, immediately, I engaged the supplier. With our intervention, the supplier agreed to bring down the cost of the fertilizer,” Minister Mustapha was quoted as saying.
He added: “The urea was reduced from $9,500 to $8,500 per bag, and the TSP from $10,000 to $8,200 per bag, and we are going beyond that. Last week, the President announced that we are in discussion with our bilateral partners to see how we can collaborate to address these cost increases. This may be burdensome, but this is a global issue, and we need farmers to recognise that.”
As he hastened to explain, due to a global shortage of natural gas, many industries have been affected, which has resulted in increases in many commodities across the world.
“We have to look at the reasons for the increase in prices; we are seeing an increase in the cost of natural gas, which is a critical component when producing fertilisers,” he said, adding: “Globally, the cost of fertilisers has increased tremendously; in some parts of the US, the costs have doubled and tripled. Even in China, a powerhouse producer, many industries were closed because of the pandemic, which resulted in a shortage of natural gas.
That is why it is important for us to build that pipeline, so that we can be in a position to produce our own natural gas.”
During a media briefing last Thursday, President Dr. Irfaan Ali noted that at the international level, his government does not intend to sit down and wait for the situation to correct itself. Referencing the rising cost of fertilisers, the President said that over the last four weeks, discussions were held with many bilateral partners to remedy the situation.
The Head of State also said that the increase in the cost of production and logistics have driven prices up across the world.
“We are doing this,” he said, “so that the farmers, the sugar industry, the rice producers they can all benefit. Because, if we don’t bring down the cost, we know, too, that the cost of rice will increase.”
President Ali said that the current circumstances are threatened by the forecast that existing shortages and price increase will continue well into 2022.
According to the Head of State, an assessment of what is happening in major economies like China shows that they are experiencing the fastest growth in increased prices since the 1990s. In the United States of America, the consumer price index for October has shown that prices rose 6.2 per cent over the last 12 months. According to President Ali, it is the highest in the last three decades.
After gaining insight into the root cause of the increases, farmers expressed their satisfaction with the government’s efforts to bring down the cost of fertilisers so far, and said that they look forward to more interventions that could result in further reductions, the release said.