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Posted by: urt8sant39 (IP Logged)
Date: April 30, 2017 04:12PM

?but insists bickering must stopBy Kiana A. Wilburg Even in the face of harsh criticisms and insults, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder made it clear that he is prepared to sow seeds of peace between the Government and the Opposition. Yesterday in the National Assembly, he signaled his intentions to work with his colleagues of the People?s Progressive Party (PPP) in addressing the challenges in the rice sector.Agriculture Minister, Noel HolderDuring his presentation, Holder sought to deal with the measures proposed in Opposition Member, Irfaan Ali?s motion which spoke to the state of Guyana?s rice sector.Ali proposed that Government resume discussions with the Government of Venezuela with the intention of selling rice and paddy to that country. In this regard, Holder said that under the PetroCaribe arrangement, Guyana signed contracts with Venezuela for each consecutive year from 2009 to 2015 and honoured all contracts.He said that the Venezuela rice trade totaled 624,647 metric tons of paddy and 355,628 metric tons of white rice valued at US$594,[url=http://www.2017draftshop@#$%&/adoree-jackson/]Adoree Jackson Authentic Jersey[/url],918,265 (US$312, 645,475 (paddy) and US$ 282,272,790 (rice). Holder said that during this period the rice industry saw some positive transformations. He said that farmers and millers were gradually increasing their investments over the years.The Minister of Agriculture noted, however, that it is a well-known fact that the contract with Venezuela was repudiated by Venezuela. Holder stressed that Guyana?s effort to resume shipments were not successful.As for Ali?s recommendation that Government must remove all forms of taxes and duties on fuel for the industry,[url=$%&/]Jerseys China Wholesale[/url], and as well as on machinery, equipment and spares, Holder said he is willing to re-examine this.He said, ?I call upon the Rice Producers? Association to collaborate with officers at my Ministry to present a proposal on how the removal of duties and taxes on fuel can be addressed without the hemorrhage of such fuel into the society at a great loss to the government?s coffers?.Holder admitted that VAT is now being charged on imported machinery, equipment and spares unlike the earlier years. He said however that this can be re-looked at. The Minister said that he will ensure this is done so that recommendations, if considered feasible,[url=$%&/]NFL Jerseys Supply[/url], can be made to the Ministry of Finance.The Agriculture Minister then looked at Ali?s proposal for Government to commence discussion with all the commercial banks lending to the industry to review terms and conditions of loans taken into account the low prices farmers are getting in order to ?soften? repayment conditions.Holder said, once in the past, government had intervened with the re-financing of defaulter farmers, where the taxes on interest earned by the commercial banks were waived and farmers benefitted from a lower interest rate.?There is much potential for this to benefit our farmers, since according to the Bank of Guyana, the commercial banks, loans and advances to the private paddy producers was G$65,504 Million in 2015. Whilst from January to March 2016 it was $17,222 Million. This is an increase of 19 percent for the same period (Jan-Mar) 2015,? the minister noted.He promised that his ministry will commence discussions with the Ministry of Finance and commercial banks as is suggested to ?soften? repayment conditions.With regard to the Opposition?s recommendation for Government to suspend payments of land leases and drainage and irrigation charges, Holder said that one may need to examine this in greater details.Holder also stated that the government has in the past given favourable consideration for supplementary provisions for farmers. He said that his Government is prepared to import fertilizers and make it available to farmers at the lowest possible price.Turning his attention to Ali?s call for Government to immediately implement minimum export prices for rice and paddy, Holder said that this might be easier said than done. He explained that when one looks at Guyana?s position in the world rice trade, the country?s production is only 0.161 percent of world rice production. Holder said that this means that Guyana?s position is the same as that of a single raindrop in the mighty Essequibo River.?What this means is that we are not in a position to neither dictate terms on the world market, nor influence price nor production trends. We are at the behest of world rice market prices. We would have avoided this reality in the recent past with the very favourable prices we received from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe arrangement, where we accepted rice as payment for oil. However, this arrangement has many challenges,[url=$%&/]Wholesale Jerseys[/url], and we are forced once more to wake up to the reality that is the world market,? the Agriculture minister explained.He added, ?We operate on open market conditions. We monitor the prices and set our contacts based on the world prices. How, therefore, can Guyana implement a system of minimum export prices for paddy and/or rice? What happens when there are no buyers,[url=$%&/]NFL Jerseys Supply[/url], because there is cheaper rice available elsewhere??The Minister of Agriculture also spoke to Ali?s proposal for Government to implement an aggressive marketing strategy in order to enhance current prices and secure new lucrative markets.He told the House that the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has been doing this on a continuous basis. He said that the Panama contract is a case in point,[url=$%&/]cheap nfl jerseys[/url], and negotiations are in train to secure a new market in Mexico.Holder said that he would not shy away from the fact that one of the main issues facing the industry is the challenge of marketing Guyana?s rice at a price that is profitable to all stakeholders. He said that the enormous increase in rice production now means that the Government must market Guyana?s rice into newer markets and be competitive with other producers of rice.He said that 40 countries now buy Guyana?s rice, allowing export earnings from rice to grow to more than US$240M. He said that all must work together to protect and extend these markets by ensuring the highest quality rice is exported.Holder said that the Government is fully aware of the importance of this sector on the performance of the economy and the livelihood of the people.The Parliamentarian then addressed the Opposition?s request for the APNU/AFC administration to withdraw its pronouncement that the rice industry?s crisis ?is a private matter? and give support to the industry, especially the farmers.Holder said that the rice industry is at present, the most important agricultural industry in Guyana. He said that indeed, it is now ahead of sugar in terms of foreign exchange earnings. The Minister acknowledged that rice is the largest user of agricultural lands, and absorbs and influences more of the working population than any other industry in Guyana. He stressed that his Government recognized the 7,300 farmers across the rice belt cultivating some 240,000 acres.The Agriculture Minister stressed however that the leaders of the day ?must stop the bickering and work together for the benefit of the farmers.?He said that he welcomes the Rice Producers? Association – and even Irfaan Ali – to a discussion with his officers to work on these measures in greater details for the benefit of the farmers and to improve the state of the rice industry.

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