Gov’t slashes transport costs for Wakenaam rice farmers

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The Government has agreed to new transportation subsidies for rice farmers of Wakenaam Island to help mitigate the economic hardship incurred by COVID-19. The Transport and Harbours Department will facilitate the subsidy by allowing rice on the island to be transported aboard one of its vessels.

And according to Regional Councillor, Aseef Ahmad, the subsidies will allow the farmers to save some $3.5M.

“That would enhance transportation of products from Wakenaam to Georgetown and other destinations and enhance our ability to trade, in terms of bringing in more wholesale products,” the Regional Councillor said.

However, this subsidy is only effective for the current crop of rice and has been instituted after years of pleas to the Government for assistant.

This decision follows a meeting with the farmers and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar on Friday last.

“We will reduce the cost by half if they’re taking it to Essequibo and it will be one-third the cost if they’re taking it to Parika,” Minister Indar said.

One of the largest rice farmers in Leguan, Jitinger Ramkisoon said, “I really appreciate it because it has been tough for us to get the paddy off the island and it’s very expensive.”

Rice farmer, Jitinger Ramkissoon (DPI Photo)

The farmer explained a private barge would usually transport the island’s paddy at a high cost. With the subsidies, the farmer plans to reinvest the money saved into growing his business.

For Terry Singh, a rice farmer for 20 years, the savings will be put towards planting additional rice crops.

Rice farmer, Terry Singh (DPI Photo)

Also, a farmer for two decades, Balram Rampersaud praised the initiative.

(Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information)

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