Rice somewhat nice for Guyana

Rice somewhat nice for Guyana

High rice production has brought simultaneous market gains and storage woes.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana The Guyana government says repeated high rice production levels have brought many challenges ranging from lucrative markets to the capacity to store large amounts.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said the Ricegovernment has been making major investments in the rice sector over the past three years in the area of drying and storage.

Industry challenges include millers’ inability to pay farmers in a timely manner, the need for energy-efficient management at rice mills and more emphasis on value-added rice production.

But despite these problems, rice and paddy production is estimated at 15.4% higher than last year, while exports are 23.4% higher. Ramsammy said the government is sparing no effort to have more rice exported in a bid to reduce the need for storage space.

He noted that if the sector has to store and keep rice for an ideal pricing, then there would not be enough storage capacity and this is a major area of concern.

“On top of the European and Caribbean markets, Venezuela came on board. Venezuela took up 70% of all our rice and paddy and because of the price differential most of our farmers and millers opted for the Venezuela market and gave up some of the European and Caribbean markets. We have had to recover those markets in the last year … we are now looking for new markets.”

He said the Ministry of Agriculture Ministry has managed to attract markets in Haiti, Panama and Belize and is looking to capture markets in Guatemala and several African countries.

Ramsammy said Guyana has the capability to sell all 600,000 tonnes of rice produced almost immediately but the country is used to a premium price and in recent times, large world market competitors, particularly from the Asian continent, have been slowly infiltrating the country’s market domain, resulting in a decline in pricing.

In 2013, Guyana exported 395,000 tonnes rice for a value of US$246 million and this year is expected to produce over 600,000 tonnes.

The authorities say they intend to export more than 461,000 tonnes of rice, noting that it would result in approximately US$251 million being ploughed into the local economy.