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Essequibo rice farmers yesterday took their protest for better rice price to a new level as they waved placards and chanted slogans at a meeting on the Essequibo Coast that was attended by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud.Almost 300 rice farmers converged at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) office in Anna Regina demanding better than $2000 per bag for paddy that is currently being offered by millers in Essequibo.Upon arriving at the meeting yesterday, the Minister invited 12 farmers into the RDC boardroom,Tyrell Williams Chargers Jersey, but they refused and insisted on the Minister speaking to all the farmers that were present. The Minister was forced to call a meeting outside the RDC office one hour later.The Minister then addressed the farmers who became frustrated, as they were not hearing anything definitive on the rice price issue for which the meeting was called.It was then that those present started to heckle the Minister,Devonta Freeman Falcons Jersey, making it difficult for him to speak. The chanting went on for as long as the Minister spoke.The farmers also called for the resignation of the Secretary of the RPA Dharamkumar Seeraj who they claim is not representing their interest and branded him a ‘yes-man.’The farmers explained that they would be losing $17,500 per acre if they were to accept $2000 for a bag of paddy. They are demanding at least $3,LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers Jersey,500 if they are to make a small profit. The farmers say they are suffering and there seem to be no end in sight to their plight.In a statement last night the Agriculture Ministry said millers in Essequibo have agreed to offer better prices.While it is unclear what prices are going to be offered, several other measures to ease the farmers’ plight were also announced. These include acquiring a vessel from the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD),http://www.theworldsoccersshop.com/Sweden-Melker-Hallberg-Jersey.html, and this cost will be borne by government.The statement said “Efforts will be made to encourage other millers and exporters to buy paddy from Region Two so as to encourage more competition on the Essequibo Coast,”Additionally, consideration will be given for reimbursing farmers the export commission for rice exported from Region Two.According to the Ministry,Erik Lamela Jersey UK, there will be moves to “encourage the sourcing of non-traditional markets for rice and efforts have started to target Haitian,Per Mertesacker Arsenal Jersey UK, Venezuelan and Cuban markets.”Minister Persaud promised that Guyana would insist that there is no waiver of the Common External Tariff (CET) for rice so that the CARICOM market can be fully utilized. CET is charged on rice being exported from out of the region to CARICOM territory.With regards to prices being offered by overseas markets, the Minister assured that “GRDB will publicize all contracts entered into by exports so farmers can track the price being offered for Guyana’s rice overseas.”Farmers across Guyana are claiming that based on the $2000 price being offered, it is their calculations that thousands of dollars will be lost per acre as a result.They are demanding that the administration do something about the price, but Government is saying it cannot meddle with a free market system especially when world prices are dictating what is being paid locally.There were also several complaints that millers are robbing farmers on weight and quality when rice is sold to the mills.Yesterday, the farmers were told that the Bureau of Standards and GRDB would step up the monitoring of scales and grading systems at all mills. This year rice production will reportedly be a record high of 360,000 tonnes.
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