Miller owes Wakenaam rice farmers for paddy

first_img…non-payment causing default on GRDB fertiliser loanA group of frustrated farmers who reside on Wakenaam Island in the Essequibo River on Monday said they are desperately trying to repay loans taken to procure fertilisers, fuel and equipment after waiting for almost three months to begin receiving payment for paddy sold to Essequibo-based miller Wazeer Hussein.Rice cultivationGuyana Times was informed by the frustrated farmers that Wazir Hussein has not paid them for paddy he had purchased since March, although he has already converted same into rice.Speaking on condition of anonymity, the farmers disclosed that having to go for months without payment has put them under grave financial strain, and they are now beginning to default on loan repayments, which is affecting their livelihood and sustenance.“This is de end of May and we can’t do rice. Me personally don’t have money to buy fuel. I owe de fuel station, and de man said he can’t give credit,” one farmer disclosed to this newspaper.Another indicated that farmers also owe the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for fertiliser taken on credit. In that arrangement, announced last June, the farmers are to repay the Agriculture Ministry’s sub-agency at the end of the crop.The system was designed to assist members of rice farming communities who had encountered financial difficulties. The farmers have long decried the reduced payments they were receiving for their paddy as affecting their ability to acquire the necessary equipment and chemicals needed to produce the crop.Guyana Times understands that GRDB officials have, within recent weeks, visited farmers and the default of loan repayments was discussed. It was pointed out to this publication that farmers explained the reasons why they could not make their payments to GRDB, which reportedly gave assurances to look into the matter. It is understood that rice farmers were given more time to pay for the fertiliser they acquired.This newspaper was told that farmers are contending that depleted finances are affecting them from sowing the next crop on schedule, with one farmer observing that the current rainfall is ideal for rice planting on Wakenaam.“Time ah go; we surrounded by salt water on this island. The day the rain cut off two weeks, the salt water [would] rush in,” the resident and farmer stressed.Farmers have also claimed they have been making several attempts to contact the miller, who is reportedly avoiding their calls. Guyana Times has learnt on Monday that a ship supposedly bound for Mexico is expected to dock at a local port sometime this week. The farmers remain hopeful that they can receive their funds after an extended wait.Withholding payments to farmers is in contravention of the Rice Factories (Amendment) Act of 2009, which stipulates that farmers need wait no longer than the mandatory 42 days before being paid for their paddy. According to the Act, the manufacturer (miller) is required to pay the paddy producer (farmer) half the amount due that farmer within two weeks of receiving that farmer’s paddy, and the remainder of the liability must be liquidated within 42 days of the parties signing the agreement of sale for the paddy.Before the cancellation of PetroCaribe (rice-for-oil) deal by Venezuela in 2015, farmers were obtaining premium rates for their paddy crops. Under that arrangement, farmers accrued some $9,000 per bag of paddy, but this was reduced to between $1800 and $3,000, depending on location. (Shemuel Fanfair)last_img

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