Last Updated on Thursday, 8 December 2016, 7:01 by Derwayne Wills
Guyana’s rice is no longer purchased by the Venezuelan government, but private buyers in Guyana’s spanish-speaking neighbour have purchased thousands of tonnes of rice directly from Guyanese millers.
Agriculture Minister Noel Holder confirmed this yesterday to Demerara Waves Online.
“It is not government to government but private to private,” Minister Holder explained noting that the arrangement sees buyers coming from Venezuela and purchasing directly from millers in Guyana.
This arrangement has been ongoing for the past four or fives months, Holder noted, and the amount of rice already-purchased, some 10,000 tonnes, is expected to increase as the arrangement continues.
Holder said the Guyana government continues to engage with Panama, Mexico, Italy, and Spain on purchasing agreements between governments. The Agriculture Minister expects the Mexican team in Guyana during January 2017.
It is still too early to tell how much rice Mexico will purchase from Guyana. The Agriculture Minister explained Mexico’s rice demand is some 1.8M tonnes, while Guyana can only produce 600,000 tonnes.
Asked whether the Guyana government benefits from the private-private rice trade between Guyanese sellers and Venezuelan buyers, Minister Holder responded, “of course it does.”
“Nothing can leave here without it being given a certificate,” Minister Holder explained, noting the Guyana Rice Development Board must approve of the shipment. “You gotta pay US$8 a tonne on every tonne of rice that leaves. Every bit of rice leaving here, we gotta give it a certificate before it goes on the boat.”
Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have grown difficult since the coming into office of the David Granger administration. A more than 100-year-old border controversy between the two countries had escalated in 2015 to the point where the Venezuelan government was no longer trading ‘oil for rice’ with Guyana in the Petrocaribe arrangement.
Venezuela is currently experiencing an economic pitfall as global oil prices remain low; negatively affecting the petroleum-dependent country.