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Essequibo rice miller gets cash to pay paddy farmers

Rice farmers and millers at last Sunday’s meeting in Region Two (GINA photo)

Rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast on Wednesday began receiving outstanding payments for paddy from Golden Fleece Rice Investment, even as government hoped that commercial banks would provide advances to the millers.

Demerara Waves Online News was told that GUY$250 million were provided last week and GUY$150 million were disbursed on Tuesday to facilitate the payments.

Asked whether government was providing advances to the farmers, Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said government has approached commercial banks.  “Government is trying to get bankers to loan the millers. We are working on it,” he told Demerara Waves Online News in a brief comment.

Essequibo Coast sources said several farmers were given cheques and others were told to return on Friday.

Those receiving payments had sold paddy to the mill owned by Nazeemul Hakh.

 Ramotar has promised the farmer that everything would be done to help farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture through Guyana Rice Development Board was working with the millers.

He met with the rice farmers several days after a number of them had staged a protest and burnt tires on the Essequibo Coast public road to protest the non-payment.

Several of them have been charged with riot-related offences.  Government has suggested that the protest was politically motivated by the smaller opposition Alliance For Change (AFC).

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan has called for a special fund to be established and dropping of the criminal charges against the farmers.