After more than five years, some mills on the Essequibo Coast are yet to make payments to rice farmers, for paddy purchased. The Regional Democratic Council of Region Two, in a bid to have the issue quickly resolved, announced that the body will soon be writing the Minister of Agriculture on the issue.
This new development was announced on Friday last, during a multi stakeholder meeting with representatives from the Rice Industry and Regional Council. Farmers were represented by the Water Users association, while the Regional Chairman, Vice Chairman and Regional Executive Officer represented the RDC.
Region Two Regional Chairman, Devanand Ramdatt said that these payments have been outstanding for a long time, “we have been having issues as it relates to mills having payment outstanding for farmers. At the moment its just two mills but for that is a challenge because rice is important to this region since a large section of our population is heavily dependant on rice industry.”
During the meeting yesterday, it was revealed that the Wazir Hussain Rice Mill and the Ramlakhan Rice Mill, are amongst the mills that owe farmers.
Prior to last Friday’s meeting, one farmer related to this publication, that for the past one and a half year, he has been owed over $1.5 Million. “Right now, a miller owe me for over three crop, which is eighteen month. When I sold him the paddy over two million, but I end up crediting about five to six hundred thousand dollars in fertilizer over two period.”
During the meeting, RDC Councillor, Arnold Adams, said that the fertilizer business is a cunning attempt by millers, to have their debts deducted. Adams explained, saying, “What is troubling is that when these millers owe farmers, farmers find it difficult to reinvest in the next crop. So the millers will usually credit fertilizer to farmers at a higher cost, plus charge interest on the farmers for late payment on the fertilizer… but they don’t pay the farmers interest when they owe the farmers.”
The Big Smith News Watch understands that the Ramlakhan rice mill has been making payments, but still owes large sums of money to farmers from specifically 2015. The REO pointed out that some millers were left in a position where they could not have paid farmers, since they owed by the Guyana Rice Development Board. “at this point the most prudent decision will be to write the minister asking for a feed back to see how soon these farmers can be paid.” Said Ramdatt.