Mustapha says no to across-the-board standard price for paddy


Rice farmers on Tuesday asked Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha for the government’s aid in making the paddy price standard in all regions but the lawmaker told them that doing so may be challenging.

Rice farmers from Regions Two, Three, Five, and Six met with Mustapha to discuss some of the issues faced in the industry, including the price for paddy.

A release from the Ministry of Agriculture noted that the government, since taking office, has implemented a number of measures to assist farmers, the most recent being the $1 billion fertiliser assistance programme that was completed last year.

And he said although farmers are requesting an across-the-board price for paddy from millers, the government cannot institute this because transportation cost plays a significant role in the price for paddy in certain regions.

“We will continue to engage the millers on prices but I cannot promise an across-the-board price for paddy.

“For instance, in Region Two, the price to transport will be more than in Region Five so in order for millers to earn they take those factors into consideration. You know for a fact last year we were able to negotiate with millers from Region Two for better prices for farmers and now you are getting up to $4,000 per bag,” Minister Mustapha explained.

Paddy prices have been a concern of farmers over the past year.

Last year, aggrieved rice farmers from Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, were 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.

A 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 fertiliser prices.

Additionally, rice farmers from Region Two protested for an increase in paddy price and Minister Mustapha announced that the price will only increase by $200.

Then, Mustapha assured that farmers who already took their crop to the mills and were offered $3,500 – a decrease of $600 compared to the last crop – will now receive the $3,700 retroactively. But this price is only for grade ‘A’ paddy.

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