Scores of rice farmers in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest demanding higher prices for paddy.
The current price offered is approximately $3,500 per bag – a decrease of $600 compared to the last crop.
Rice farmers from various villages on the Essequibo Coast gathered At 09:00hrs with placards pleading with the government to intervene.
“President Ali can reduce the cost for production and raise the price”; “millers can pay better prices”; “rice farmers need to survive,” some of the placards read.
Rice farmers said that the current prices cannot offset their overhead expenses and they will be incurring a loss.
They explained that the cost of production is very high, including the fee for harvesting and sowing. The rice farmers are therefore demanding $5,000 for a bag of paddy.
“We had to pay more this crop for cutting, and even ploughing; everything raise and paddy not raise.
“We owe the bank; things are not going in our favour; we have families and we need to maintain them,” farmer Navin Persaud told the News Room.
Meanwhile, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamall, who has parliamentary responsibilities for Region Two, spoke with rice farmers.
He said that the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is doing everything in its capacity to reduce the cost of production in the rice industry.
But the rice farmers said they will continue to protest if the price for paddy does not increase.
This protest action follows on the heels of what took place last week in Black Bush polder, Corentyne Berbice, 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 last, the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha met with those farmers and related that after a three-hour-long meeting with the Guyana Rice Millers Association (GRMA), the price will remain at $65,000.