Rice farmers welcome relief measures
Vice President of the Essequibo Rice farmers Development Committee, Rabindra Ramcharran
Vice President of the Essequibo Rice farmers Development Committee, Rabindra Ramcharran

–but still call for further support

RICE farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), who were among those clamouring for some relief before the first rice crop of 2023 is harvested, have welcomed the measures announced by the government on Saturday, following an intervention from President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and other top officials.

President Ali; Vice-President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo; Minister of Agriculture, Zulifikar Mustapha and representatives of the Guyana Millers and Exporters Association (GREMA) and the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), on Saturday, finalised an agreement for farmers across the country to receive at least $4,000 per bag of paddy.

In the document, which was signed by all parties and released to the media on Saturday, it was also agreed that the sales commission paid by millers and exporters for rice, by-products of rice and paddy would be reduced to zero for the first crop of 2023.

These measures are expected to bring significant relief to rice farmers who, for months, have been seeking assistance because of the increased cost of production and lower payments from millers.

“I think this is some good news. At least (they) try but we believe better can be done. I know scales are calibrated. However let me tell you that more visits are needed because we can get increase,” rice farmer Majeed Mohamed said.

Vice President of the Essequibo Rice farmers Development Committee, Rabindra Ramcharran, said that the news was “good” but he too believes that more can be done by the Government. He said that the cost of production has increased and many farmers are reaping fewer bags of paddy per acre.

“I am calling on the government to give $1,000 per bag as a subsidy. Last crop it was hard on rice farmers and some of them were not planning to go back in the fields. We appreciate what has been done but we have to look at ways to reduce the cost of production” Ramcharran said.

Rice farmers at a recent meeting held with rice farmers by Minister Mustapha, where an intervention was promised

Ramcharran is currently cultivating 85 acres. He suggested that the GRBD needs to dispatch personnel to the mills to monitor the weight and moisture level of the paddy.

Another rice farmer, Dyal Jagdeo of Golden Fleece, said that relief provided was a positive move and he was thankful. Jagdeo is cultivating 20 acres of rice lands.

“Every crop is something new but we are thankful we are glad and we hope to see more changes,” he said.

Another large-scale rice farmer, Shyham Persaud, said that he was pleased when he read the news in the media.

“We see that the Government want to help but also there must be people in the system to monitor, Essequibo is rice farming and we depend on same, this is what we take care of our family with” Persaud said.

Rice farmers in the Maria Lodge and Johanna Cecilia area also welcomed the move and showered loud praises to all the stakeholders for making it happen.


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