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General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Nizam Hassan is reporting a production growth of 7 percent, and an export growth of 10 percent at the end of November.

According to Hassan, rice production, up to the end of November was 681, 517 metric tonnes. This is a 7 percent increase or 46, 279 metric tonnes over the whole of 2014 production of 635, 235 metric tonnes.

“This reflects favourably, and this is because of the approaches that our farmers and all the other stakeholders have put into the industry to have the industry deliver,” Hassan told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Exports

Notwithstanding the loss of the Venezuelan market under the Petrocaribe Rice Trade Agreement, Hassan also reported that at the end of November, rice export stood at 497, 176 metric tonnes, a 10 percent increase,  compared to 451,422 tonnes for the same period in 2014.

 The GRDB is optimistic that the industry will surpass last year’s export figure. Exports reached an all-time high of 501,208 metric tonnes in 2014. “We expect that it will be in the double digits, but let’s see what would happen at the end of December.  So far, given all the contracts that we have on board at the end of October there was almost 200,000 metric tonnes of rice contracts that were committed to by the private millers,  and thus we are seeing that exports are going, so we expect to surpass that figure in 2014,” he said.

Markets

In light of the industry’s performance this year, pressure continues to mount to find new markets. According to Hassan, the Government is committed to assisting the farmers to find markets, and is currently working to tie up the Mexico market.

“We have had two conference calls, one with the private sector officials in Mexico, which is the Mexican Rice Council and also the public sector agency, which is an agency in Mexico that does imports,” he said.

 Government is in discussion with both parties. “The conference calls are favourably received, Guyana has supplied the phyto-sanitary information that was required by Mexico, and we have indicated to Mexico that we want to accelerate that process, and thus we are going through that process of establishing the necessary protocols with Mexico with respect to the phyto-sanitary arrangements,” he explained.

            After the Venezuela market fell through in June, the millers along with the Government accelerated talks with other potential buyers for Guyana’s rice. “There are a lot of discussions that have been happening because of the interest from overseas for our rice,” Hassan told GINA.

            Following the fall out of the Venezuela market, more of Guyana’s rice and paddy is being exported now. Guyana also has an on-going contract with Panama. According to Hassan, the Panamanians have bought two sets of rice from Guyana for 2015, and December is expected to see the conclusion of another set of contracts for the supply of rice to that country.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, whilst attending the Open Governance Summit in Mexico City in October, met with that country’s Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada, during which a commitment was made to buy some of the country’s paddy.

The new administration has prioritised assisting farmers to find alternative international markets, in light of the country’s continued production boom, and in the midst of the loss of a major market in Venezuela.

Guyana’s production in the first half of 2015 was 359,960 tonnes, 15.3 percent more than last year’s record high, first-half production of 312,283 tonnes.

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