Aggrieved rice farmers from Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, will now be paid $65,000 per tonne of paddy rice after the government was forced to intervene to put an end to the recent protest actions in Region Six.
The move by millers to drop the paddy price from $70,000 to $65,000 then to $60,000 sparked outrage and saw scores of rice farmers blocking the main access roads to Lesbeholden and Johanna in protest. The rice farmers cited the sharp rise in the cost of living and their inability to keep up with increasing fertilizer prices.
On Saturday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha met with the farmers and related that after a three-hour-long meeting with the Guyana Rice Millers Association (GRMA), the price will remain at $65,000.
To ensure both parties’ benefit, the government has, in turn, reduced the export commission for millers from US$8 to US$6. Added to that, the scanning fee has been slashed by 50 per cent.
In the coming week, the government will be negotiating with a supplier to see a possible reduction in the cost of fertilizer, Minister Mustapha said.
“We tried because as a government, we would like to see that you receive a maximum price for your paddy,” the Agriculture Minister told the farmers.
He reminded that as an added measure to bring relief to the farmers, the government instituted a major deduction of land rental and drainage and irrigations charges that once stood at $15,000.
“We reduced it to $3,500,” he pointed out.
The Agriculture Minister offered hope that by the next crop, the price of fertilizer should reduce but this is dependent on world fuel prices.
“It has skyrocketed because of natural gas increase and when it was about to come down back the war started in Ukraine and Russia, it push up back the price”, he said.
He assured farmers that his ministry and the government is working to make the lives of farmers easier.