Guyana’s rice sector shows incredible resilience in spite of international woes
Many analysts would agree that last year was undoubtedly a productive year for the rice industry. And this was in spite of the worrying declining international prices for rice.
According to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), rice exports for 2015 totalled 537,334 tonnes, as compared to 501,208 tonnes of rice for 2014. This represented an increase of seven percent in rice exported in 2015, when compared to 2014, and is the highest rice export level, in the history of the industry as it remains one of the pillars of Guyana’s economy.
The major markets for Guyana’s rice continued to be European Union (EU), CARICOM and Latin American countries, with the quantity of rice exported to the EU increasing by 129% i.e. from 101,672 tonnes in 2014 to 232,450 tonnes in 2015, while that of CARICOM and Latin American countries fell by 3% and 34% respectively i.e. from 88,435 tonnes to 85,855 tonnes and 308,562 tonnes to 212,559 tonnes, when comparing 2014 with 2015.
Officials from the Rice Development Board expressed that the increase in quantity of rice exported to the European Union can be attributed to the vagarious marketing strategies by the Government of Guyana and the Private Sector in securing new markets, and increased sales volume in some of the current markets in the EU.
They said that decreases in exports to Latin America can be attributed mainly to the abrupt cessation of exports to Venezuela in June.
Additionally, the Government of Venezuela had signed a contract with the Guyana Rice Development Board for 120,000 tonnes of Paddy and 74,000 tonnes of white rice with the contract period being April to December 2015. Due to the withdrawal of the contract in June, Guyana only exported 30,000 tonnes of paddy and 38,640 tonnes of white rice. The decreases to CARICOM can be attributed to low market prices for rice to that region.
The Rice Development Board said that the 2015 rice export values totalled US$220,768,341 as compared to US$249,504,955 in 2014. The Board members opined that this represented a decline of 10% in the overall value of rice exported in 2015 as compared to 2014. They said that this decline in the overall value for rice was due to declining rice prices for all rice types and the removal of premium price that Guyana enjoyed from Venezuela before the contract was withdrawn.
Furthermore, an examination of the prices for the four main rice types exported by Guyana, namely Cargo rice, parboiled rice, white rice and paddy; reveals that average prices for 2015 declined by 15%,6%,14% and 27% respectively as compared to 2014.
With such huge declines in individual rice type prices, officials said that it is of no surprise that, despite the quantity of rice export increasing by seven percent, there was still an overall decline in the value of rice exported by 12%.
Despite the reduction in export values, the Board said that there were other major achievements in 2015. One such achievement it pointed to was the accreditation of the GRDB’s central laboratory to International Standard ISO/IEC: 17025. The accreditation process was done by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) which is an ILAC MRA accredited laboratory.
Also, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture and the Guyana Rice Development Board hosted a National Rice Industry Conference. Rice Farmers, Millers, Exporters, the Financial Sector and other stakeholders were part of the conference.
There was also the launching of the first aromatic rice produced in Guyana – the Maria’s Delight Aromatic Rice. This aromatic rice is targeted to be produced in large quantities. And the “GRDB 14” – a new variety was also launched. This new variety has a high yield average and is tolerant to lodging.
Finally, there was the commissioning of the #56 Seed Facility and it has commenced operations. This facility will produce certified seeds for the rice growing regions. Also, a gasification plant was installed in Region 2 and this too has commenced operations. The plant uses paddy husk to provide energy for the rice mill.