Great progress in rice and sugar output despite hurdles -Chandarpal
October 20, 2002
Agriculture Minister Navin Chandarpal contends that great progress has been made in the areas of rice and sugar production from a state of serious decline which had existed before the PPP/C government took office in October 1992.
The agriculture minister was addressing the ceremonial opening of World Food Day last Wednesday at the Albion Sports Complex in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).
The Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted Chandarpal as saying that there has been a massive gain in rice and sugar production over the last ten years.
"We can see a much greater impact in terms of the export of rice from Guyana. In 1991 the export of rice was 54,000 tonnes and in 1999, Guyana exported 209,000 tonnes of rice. This is nearly four times the amount that was exported in 1991," Chandarpal said.
And in terms of financial impact, the agriculture minister said that "in 1991 rice brought in an income of US$17 million while in 2001 there was a recorded income of US$50 million, which is almost three times the 1991 income."
He said that among the many difficulties which arose in the rice sector, the main ones were reductions in prices and markets. These difficulties, he said, have created a financial problem but the government has taken the necessary steps to assist the farmers.
A rice relief package was established earlier this year to assist farmers with their debt at the banks and was set up after an agreement between the government and the Guy-ana Association of Bankers. Chandarpal said that the package is still faced with some difficulty because "those who are involved are not doing what they are supposed to do to implement the package".
The minister noted that price reductions on the world market had also affected the rhythm of the rice crop along with adverse and irregular weather patterns which prevented some farmers from cultivating during this crop.
In the case of sugar, Chandarpal said there has been a drop in price in the preferential market in addition to heavy competition with prices from competing countries.
"These current difficulties are slowing the pace of development in the key agricultural sub-sectors," he stated.
Contending that the sugar industry had improved significantly over the last ten years, Chandarpal said that in 1991, sugar production was recorded at 161,000 tonnes while in 1999 it was 321,000 tonnes, about twice the 1991 figure.
Overall in the sugar industry, he noted, the target of improving regional markets and sales is a major factor, as well as working in the value-added area to develop and expand the amount of packaged sugar, GINA added.