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Guyana’s rice possibly going to Venezuela via Suriname

Although Venezuela has stopped buying rice from Guyana, government here believes that rice producers in Berbice are shuttling supplies across to Suriname for onward shipment to the Spanish-speaking nation which offers higher than world market prices.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said based on casual observations rice production in Berbice has increased and locally produced grain is making its way to Venezuela via Suriname.

“I know, for example, that Venezuela is buying from Suriname and there are suggestions that some of our rice is travelling to Venezuela via Suriname. Certainly, there seems to be an uptake in rice farming in the Corentyne so there is something happening there so the prospects look good,” he told a post-cabinet news conference. He was unsure whether Guyanese rice was being exported to Suriname legally.

At the peak of a bitter border quarrel last year over the Essequibo Region and its Atlantic waters, Venezuela stopped supplying fuel under the PetroCaribe agreement and ceased buying rice from Guyana and instead turned to Suriname for grain supplies, moves that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has called an “economic blockade.”

General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan said comparative figures clearly show that there has been increase in rice exports to Suriname but he could not immediately say whether that was due to the Suriname- Venezuela rice agreement.

He said during January to March, 2015 Guyana exported  151 tons of rice to that Dutch-speaking neighbour compared to 249 tons from January to mid-March 2016.

Guyana hopes to export rice to Mexico and a country in Africa in the coming months.

In light of the loss of numerous acres of paddy due to the prolonged drought, Minister Trotman said government would be relying on expert advice from the GRDB and the Ministry of Agriculture to determine whether government should provide direct financial support  to farmers or negotiate with commercial banks.

  • Emile_Mervin

    And to think the Coalition has been bending over backward to help rice farmers find markets. This is why the government needs to get out of the business of helping rice gamers find markets; after all, the rice industry is run by private investors. Let rice farmers grow and sell their rice. Government simply has to find ways to make sure rice millers and farmers pay their fair share of taxes or risk heavy fines if caught smuggling rice and under reporting production and sale.

    • rudeo

      Do you know the difference between a paragrass and a paddy plant?

      • Emile_Mervin

        A paragraph and a paddle!

  • PETER

    Emile
    Well said, who care who buys the rice, overseeing the shipments and the collecting of taxes or revenues due and are paid that should be the government’s only responsibility.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Rice is not dead. The industry is run by private businesses, so these businesses should be in the forefront producing and selling their product at home and abroad. When a government becomes everything to everyone, that spells trouble, as in the current rice crisis in Guyana.
    But let me add this: After the PPP returned to power in 1992, many rice farmers took out huge loans and fled Guyana without repaying banks. This was detailed in a letter from a WB official who happened to be a Guyanese.

    • Col123

      EM: subventions from the govt Emil. from the tax base. ..spend five cents to make a dollar …it is business…it is what capitalist would do…we need the foreign currency…

      • Emile_Mervin

        Normally, local governments are financially independent, as in the case of America where there are three levels of government: 1) city/town/village, 2) state, and 3) federal. They are independent of each other but have a dotted line relationship when it comes to taxation and subventions.

        In Guyana, the system is different, with the central government running the entire show financially and politically. It calls the shots (remember Granger’s pre LGE rant about political connections to get things done at the local level?), and this is made worse when selected/elected local governments officials are from the same party running central government.

        Now, when we talk about towns becoming financially independent, a town like Linden should be collecting taxes directly from Bosai for bauxite, Bai Shan Lin for logging and road users for trafficking through the town with heavy duty equipment. Central government should not be collecting anything directly from any investor in Linden, so let us see if Granger et al will let Linden Town Council collect money from Bosai, Bai Shan Lin et al and live up to his argument that towns must generate their own finances.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Unbelievable!!!