— $25M allocated to cash crop farmers for same
GOVERNMENT has set aside some $250M for rice farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and a further $25M for cash crop farmers there to purchase fertilizers, Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo announced on Wednesday.
The Vice-President made the announcement during a meeting with scores of farmers, primarily rice farmers, at the Rice Producers Association’s (RPA) Bond at Anna Regina.
The sums of monies that will go to the Region Two farmers will be drawn from the $1B announced by President, Dr Irfaan Ali last week in a video announcement, also streamed on Facebook.
Some 34,500 acres of rice are cultivated in Region Two and farmers there, through group representation, will decide the place of purchase and the number of bags of fertilizers that will be given to their colleagues in the region, regardless of business scale.
Farmers need two bags of urea and one bag of MPK fertilizers to cultivate one acre of rice. The current price for one bag of urea is $11,000, with MPK going at $10,000 per bag.
Vice-President Jagdeo told the farmers gathered at the RPA Bond that while the government will not get involved in the distribution of the fertilizers, it expects the farmers, who will be serving the interest of their colleagues, to be fair in their allocations.
The distribution of the fertilizers to the cash crop farmers will be managed by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).
Supporting farmers across Guyana with fertilizers is part of the Dr Irfaan Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic government’s effort to absorb the rising global costs for the commodity, and to prevent the costs being passed on to consumers.
President Ali explained that the prices for fertilizers on the world market rose by 80 per cent in 2021, and has already risen by a further 30 per cent since the start of 2022.
“Urea, for example, was trading at US$245 per metric tonne; last month, the average price for urea was $925 per metric tonne. This represented the rapid surge of the price for natural gas which is key in the production of fertiliser.
“The world market price for wheat has similarly skyrocketed from US$223 per metric tonne to $495 [per metric tonne] last month. On top of all of this, in Guyana, we’ve had to grapple with the consequences of unusually high rainfall in 2021, resulting in floods that severely disrupted food production,” the President noted.
The increase in prices for fertilizers has resulted in increases in the prices of vegetables and other produce at local markets.
The government has been implementing a number of measures to cushion the blow, including reducing the excise tax on diesel and gasoline from 50 per cent to zero, providing planting material and technical assistance to farmers, and removing VAT on agriculture input and equipment.
More than $7B has also been given out to farmers who were affected by the floods last year to get them to return to the land.
The farmers, who were present at the meeting at the RPA Bond, praised the government for its support of the rice industry and raised a number of concerns affecting them, including the poor state of dams in their fields.
The Vice-President said the issues raised will be looked into and the dams will be fixed.