– another ‘slap in the face’ for Guyana
Guyana has lost the most lucrative rice exportation deal with the Spanish speaking nation of Venezuela, which is now having its rice needs met by the United States of America (USA).
Meanwhile, the ailing rice industry in Guyana continues to adversely affect the country’s economy with no immediate or direct intervention from the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government. Guyana Times had reported that while Guyana was officially ousted from the PetroCaribe deal it had with Venezuela during October this year, the relationship between the two countries had become extremely tense sometime in June last, causing the rice industry to suffer tremendously. It has since started a new PetroCaribe deal with Suriname and now this new arrangement with the Unites States.
The relationship between Guyana and Venezuela began to deteriorate after a decision was made by APNU/AFC Government not to allow the Venezuelan state-owned airline Conviasa Airlines, to land in Guyana over the non-payment of its bond.
As time progressed, the two countries eventually drifted from the cordial relations it had shared in previous years, and according to information this newspaper received, for the week ending August 27, the US recorded a notable increase in its rice shipments to Venezuela totalling 29,500 tonnes.
Further, this publication was informed that for the week ending September 3, the US rice exporters had exported 30,000 tonnes of rice to Venezuela as well.
A report dated October 1, 2015, from the USA Rice Daily stated that the Spanish speaking country has been hard hit by El Niño and suffered major crop shortages. Hence, it turned to the US to “fulfil its consumption needs.”
It was noted that total rough rice sales to Venezuela are at nearly 150,000 metric tonnes (MT) within just the past two months.
Meanwhile, according to the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service Export Sales Report for October 2015, the US rice exporters have shipped 298,721 tonnes of rice to Venezuela.
During this time frame, Guyanese rice farmers were faced with major difficulties since Venezuela no longer accepted shipments of rice as was arranged in the PetroCaribe deal.
Then in October, the Spanish speaking nation inked another PetroCaribe deal with Suriname to see the exchange for fuel and rice at “favourable” prices thereby knocking Guyana out of the agreement it had with Venezuela for the past number of years.
According to media reports coming out of Suriname, the Presidents of the two countries reached an agreement for the Spanish-speaking country to provide oil to the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country in exchange for rice.
Guyana Times understands that this agreement signed between Venezuelan President NicolÁs Maduro and his Surinamese counterpart Desi Bouterse, will allow Suriname to continue to receive favourable rates on oil in exchange for an agreement on rice exports.
Observers have opined that due to the lack of the art of diplomacy by the APNU/AFC Government the relations between Venezuela and Guyana “went downhill” and continued to deteriorate at a fast rate. The lack of action and unfavourable responses from the relevant authorities to inject funds into the industry has only made matters worse.
After much cries by rice farmers last week Agriculture Minister Noel Holder announced that the Ministry was awaiting the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) to put forward ‘suggestions’ for the “betterment” of the rice industry.
Mexico Market Recently Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Agriculture Minister of Mexico Jose Calzada met and had discussions on the commercialization of Guyana’s paddy.