Rice industry should seek technical assistance
April 1, 2002
Letters on resources
For some time several writers have ventured to express their opinion on the troubling developments in Guyana's ailing rice industry. Most recently Dr. C. Kenrick Hunte in his letter (3/3/2002) made reference to the fact that it was widely believed that it was the Government of Guyana's policy towards the rice industry by and large that was responsible for the current state that has befallen the rice industry. He states, and I quote "the production of paddy and rice requires individual effort, a collective responsibility, and an integrated approach by several players. For instance, small farmers need large farmers, millers and exporters for on farm services, paddy marketing and milling. Large millers need paddy from small farmers to feed their rice mills. Banks supply financial services to most of these producers. And government has a public role of research, extension, regulation, marketing information, and providing a fee based service for infrastructure services, such as drainage and irrigation".
In response to Dr. Hunte's letter Mr. David de Groot in his letter (6/3/2002) states that this was a poor attempt to place blame on the government for the financial disarray in the rice industry. He went on to say, "His contrivance, to use his own words, that Government has a "patchwork" approach to the rice industry is laughable. The philosophy of the political party which forms the government dictated the action taken to assist the small, repeat small rice farmers." At this time, however, I am somewhat confused at Mr. de Groot's response which shows a disregard for international principles and practices in terms of the social and economic impact of these entities, also, for the constitutional norms by which countries (the USA for example) are guided in their actions.
I make mention of my earlier letter in which I inquired of the modus operandi that was adopted for the approval/implementation/ restructuring processes in the rice industry by the local financial institutions and other supporting agencies, because, like so many other companies in other sectors of the Guyanese economy there appears to be a lack of the analytical principles that should have been applied to give some indication as to the long term performance of these entities... thereby influencing the decision methods that would have been applicable on a case by case basis and therefore now make the following recommendations for the much desired improvement in the rice industry:-
1) The larger operators in the rice industry like Kayman Sankar and others who are experiencing difficulties in their operations should extend to international financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank, other agencies, as well as individuals in the Caribbean and North America to obtain any financial and technical assistance that could be obtained in order to aid in the recovery of the rice industry in Guyana.
2) Entrepreneurs in the rice industry should seek the active support and assistance of local institutions such as the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, the University of Guyana and other specialized agencies, both, national and international to obtain specialized assistance from these institutions.
3) The rapid adoption of the use of Information Technology (real-time solutions and e-business implementation) should be considered to accelerate the processes of project evaluation, approval and implementation, and the marketing and sale of produce.
4) The application of tax relief and other incentives from Government for infrastructural maintenance and development.
5) The collaboration with rice industry operatives in other countries of the region must be encouraged and adopted.
6) Government must accept its overall responsibility for certain conditions now existing in the country, these affect not only the rice industry but other industries on the whole (the forestry, mining and manufacturing) as Government's actions have left the country without a one stop development financial institution that would have provided the necessary monitoring mechanism to effect the proper control in the industries.
Sheldon A. Britton
former Snr. Credit Analyst-Gaibank.
Orion Resources International