Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jagdeo, Chavez talks bears fruit!

Guyana yesterday sealed a US$ 18.8 M (G$ 3.7 bilion) deal with neighbouring Venezuela for that country to import some 50,000 tonnes of local cargo rice.

Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager, Mr. Jagnarine Singh signed the multi-million dollar agreement with Head of a Venezuelan, Colonel Rodolfo Marco at a press briefing convened at the Ministry of Agriculture.

The historic occasion was witnessed by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Dario Morandy, Rice Producers Association (RPA) General Secretary, Mr. Dharamkumar Seeraj and other officials from both countries.

Persaud pointed out that initially 10,000 tonnes of white rice and 40,000 tonnes of paddy will be exported to Venezuela and the GRDB has been tasked with facilitating the trade.

The minister said the export price for paddy will be US$ 330 per metric tonne both costs and freight and white rice five percent broken at US$ 560.

“These two prices represent a very substantial percentage above what wee see taking place in the market from export and if we look at the trend.

“I must say that we are very appreciative of President Chavez’s Government of Venezuela for entering into this agreement, it is the first agreement we have of this kind and perhaps the first time we will be exporting rice to Venezuela.

He said once the agreement has been finalised, the two countries will be looking to explore trade is other areas apart from rice.

“Within the context of the agreement…within five days or there about…by Sunday or Monday a three person delegation will come from Caracas to inspect and as it were to look at all the other considerations so that we can commence export.

“The aim is to have the first shipment leaving Guyana in the first week of November and there will be about 10 shipments with the last shipment being in the last week of February,” the minister disclosed.

These arrangements, he said will not preclude other agreements the two governments many wish to enter.

Persaud told reporters that Colonel Torrez has requested of commodities that Venezuela might have and interest of importing.

“It all part of a thrust of looking at new markets and opportunities for the sector and moreso for our farmers,” he said.

Seeraj viewed the agreement as a beginning of an arrangement that will see farmers getting a better deal within the entire process of producing and marketing rice.

He said there has been a problem here in the past where local exporters seem to have lost the will to market rice and basically reduced themselves to being price takers in the industry.

“The significance of this arrangement is that the Ministry of Agriculture and indeed the Government of Guyana through the GRDB has initiated an arrangement that is intended to bring about some protection to the farmers, because I am certain that the participating exporters in this arrangement will have to agree to pass on the benefits of this agreement to the farmers so that they can enjoy better price for their produce,” the RPA General Secretary said.

Torrez said the Venezuelan Government is pleased to be importing rice from Guyana and lauded Minister Persaud for his role in the agreement.

Ambassador Morandy said the agreement marks a historic moment for both countries and Venezuelans back home will be looking forward to enjoying the local staple.

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