Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Guyana rice exports on the rise

Published:Friday | May 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Guyana exported 93,582 tonnes of rice in the first quarter of this year or six per cent more than the comparative period in 2015, says Agriculture Minister Noel Holder. Then, export volumes totalled 88,286 tonnes.

Holder said that despite Guyana losing the PetroCaribe market in Venezuela shortly after the coalition government took office in May 2015, the rice industry has improved its markets.

Guyana had been exporting rice to Caracas in exchange for petroleum products, but the arrangement came to an end at the height of the border dispute between the two countries last year.

Amid calls by the main opposition People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for Guyana to re-enter the Venezuelan rice market, Holder said, "Guyana has met all the shipments to Venezuela, but Venezuela will not - bearing in mind the price of rice and that oil is now hovering around US$30 a barrel or slightly above - enter into a similar agreement."

Establishing new markets

Holder said that the Government has been exploring and establishing new markets, and has been able to increase the market share for Guyana's rice "at prices above world market prices, so the rice industry is not really in that much crisis as people try to say.

"We have developed now the Panama market ... we have extended our market in Caricom. Our Jamaican market should be almost double what it was last year, and we are also trying to finalise an arrangement with Mexico as a new market," he said.

Two Jamaican companies have contracts to buy up to 40,000 tonnes of rice each from Guyana annually. The companies have agreed to pay the Guyanese millers US$400 per tonne.

Panama has agreed to purchase over 11,300 tonnes of rice per annum from Guyana. More than 50 per cent of this contract has already been serviced.

Holder said he believes the time has come for Guyana to not only increase production on the coastland, but to move cultivation inland to the intermediate savannahs and focus on Manaus in Brazil, with its almost two million population and within close proximity to Guyana, as an entry point to the Brazilian market.