The rice agreement between Guyana and Panama is in “serious problem” according to Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha who on Tuesday said that Panama owes Guyana some $1.1B for rice supplied to them.
This has caused a ripple effect on the local rice industry and millers are now withholding $353.9M in commission to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) because they have not received payment for the rice supplied to Panama.
Mustapha, during a virtual press conference Tuesday, said the Ministry of Agriculture will immediately work to ensure these debts are paid as the industry can be seriously affected by the ongoing delay from Panama.
The GRDB currently has a liability of $4.7M.
“In that agreement, millers are owed $1.1B, so the agreement that the previous government had or have with Panama, that agreement is in serious problem…that sale of rice is in problem.”
In September 2018, Panamanian authorities rejected 33 containers of rice shipments after it was found that parboiled rice was shipped instead of the requested White Rice. Panama is one of Guyana’s major export market for rice.
Meanwhile, there is a current paddy bug infestation affecting farmers on the Essequibo Coast.
The Minister said he has given instructions for scientists and officers to be on the ground to offer assistance to farmers.
“We have also set up a paddy bug hotline where persons can call and get information and lodge complaints about paddy bug infestations. The number is 232-1395.”