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By Leon SuseranMinister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, says that rice cultivation and yields in Guyana are at their highest ever.Dr. Ramsammy said that the earnings from the rice industry in 1980 were less than $1B, whereas in 2005 it was $10B. Last year, it was $45B and he predicts that this year, the rice industry would have surpassed $50B.The industry is at a point where it can produce 523,000 tonnes of paddy, “and we have never produced in any single crop, 520,000 tonnes of paddy…”Today, Dr. Ramsammy said, the industry produced 635,000 tonnes of rice last year. He said the government has kept its promise when it boasted five years ago that the industry would surpass 500,000 tonnes of rice. “They said that was a pipe dream and that Guyana does not have the capacity…”“They said we had no market,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, but last year, we exported 501,000 tonnes of rice,” he posited. Dr. Ramsammy also addressed the claims of lots of paddy and rice being left for long periods at the mills across Guyana.As of December 31, 2014, there were 140,000 tonnes left at the various mills. Guyana harvests rice twice per year. “In the middle of December, we stopped harvesting rice; we don’t harvest any rice in January. February and March—what we do during that time….is that it carries over stocks from its second crop from one year, into the first crop of the other year,” he said.He alluded to the 1980s when he said rice was “crippled.” “Lands were abandoned; farmers had left Guyana…we had to beg Italy to give us rice to feed our people—that was the rice situation then, and they didn’t consider that as [a] crisis.” He also mentioned a time when Guyana couldn’t meet its export obligations of rice.Notwithstanding the many positives, there are many problems in the rice industry, though,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, including late payments to farmers. There was a time, he said, when farmers had to wait between 18 and 24 months to get paid, “but now we have brought it down…All farmers from the 2014 crop,Cheap NFL Jerseys, have now been paid…making sure that this crop the farmers would get paid even earlier than the last crop.”For this crop, 97,000 hectares of rice has been cultivated. In the 1980s, he said, about 75,Cheap China Jerseys,000 hectares of rice moved down to less than 50,000 hectares in the 1990s.“Now, every single crop,Cheap China Jerseys, there are more acreage…and whilst people used to get 1.5 tonnes per hectare in the 80’s, they are now getting 5.5 tonnes—in this crop so far, the average is 5.8 tonnes.” He also said that today some farmers are getting more than 40 bags of paddy per acre, “but many also get 50 and 60 bags—we must be doing something right and I am very proud of the industry!”Minister Ramsammy said that he would ensure more work and communication among the farmers, millers and the industry itself, keep the industry on the trajectory to success.Essequibo protestsAddressing the numerous protests from farmers in Essequibo, the Minister said that those protests are most often legitimate since there are indeed late payments by the millers. The law stipulates that farmers be paid within 42 days of taking their paddies to the millers, “so that is a problem we have been trying to address.”“This is one industry,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, so the millers cannot be successful if the farmers are not successful, and Guyana can’t be successful unless we have our export markets satisfied.”When Guyana sends bad rice to Chile, he said, the entire industry feels the burden. “We have to ensure that not only the millers are okay…or farmers…we have to ensure that the markets out there are satisfied.”
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