Head of State, Donald Ramotar and other senior government functionaries today turned the sod at Anna Regina, Essequibo for the factory. The IAST also launched its latest line of local product, a nutrition bar at the ceremony.
President Ramotar lauded the initiative as he noted that this is a step in the right direction to add value to rice and rice products.“We are meeting today at a very happy and important occasion to launch the construction of a factory to produce in the first instance rice cereal, and the first step to add value to our product”.
Citing how important this initiative is for Guyana as a whole, President Ramotar pointed to the fact that Guyana being a rice producing country is fundamentally a price taker.
This is in spite of the fact that local rice production has grown tremendously over the years from 90,000 tons in 1990s to more than 600,000 tons today.
This figure, the President said, makes Guyana very big in its own context, but when compared to the world market, Guyana is just a small player.
“We therefore are price takers, we do not determine prices, we do not determine world prices, we take the price that the world has and that is why in order to ensure that we insulate ourselves from the external shocks that come about when prices internally fall, it is important for us to add value to the products.”
He said, “This is one of the areas in which we can add value to our product and because this will be produced not from high quality rice, but this can be produced from the broken (rice) and still fetches a good price on the local and international market.”
Being optimistic about this project, President Ramotar said more business minds from the private sector should follow suit.
“…And I hope it will serve as an example for the private sector to invest in other areas… (I) hope it will have a demonstration effect.”
The Head of State also took the time to assure the rice industry that his administration will always stand by it even amidst calls by the opposition for the administration to step away. “I’m promising you now and, of the future that every PPP/C government will defend and uphold the rice industry so that we can get a better quality of life from it.”
Meanwhile Commerce Minister, Irfaan Ali also hailed the project a success even in the face of criticisms by the opposition who said it was merely a dream. Ali said this sod turning clearly indicates that it is a dream that has come to pass, and even great world leaders had dreams which also materalised.
Noting his government’s confidence in this initiative, Minister Ali said he is sure that it will be a success story even though there will be some challenges, one of which is cheap electricity. He said this will eventually be dealt with as the administration is pushing ahead with plans for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.
Giving some insight on the project was head of the IAST, Professor Suresh Narine. He said this initiative aims to produce food at the very basic level and most of the intended markets will be locally, the Caribbean and further afield.
“This means that what we produce must be of a very high quality and you know anybody can make a thing, it takes tremendous effort and effort of an entire community to make a good thing, and that is what we have to focus on here now.”
This facility will have the initial capacity to process 2,000 tons of rice per year however; it is also being built in such a way that if the market that is being targeted grows it can easily be expanded.