Suriname secures rice export deal with Venezuela
Suriname and Venezuela are one step closer to signing a long-term rice export deal that ultimately could result in a boost for Suriname’s struggling rice industry, the ministry of foreign affairs in Paramaribo confirmed.
The breakthrough came on Thursday in Caracas during talks between Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse and foreign minister Winston Lackin with a Venezuelan delegation led by President Nicolas Maduro.
The agreement to export rice was a deal secured by late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bouterse in November 2010 in Paramaribo, and the new government has pledged to continue the programmes of cooperation Chavez initiated with Suriname. Both countries say they are committed to strengthen and enhance economic and trade cooperation including rice production and export.
“The completion of a multi-annual contract is now in advanced stage at the ministry of food affairs of Venezuela. Very soon, it is expected, we will sign a final long-term supply contract,” said the Surinamese ministry of foreign affairs.
For 2015, Suriname has offered to supply Venezuela 32.000 metric tonnes of seed paddy and an additional 80.000 metric tonnes of white rice. According to the Surinamese authorities, Venezuela in principal has agreed with the prices Paramaribo has put forward. However, both sides still have to agree on several technical terms and specifications regarding the rice shipments.
As soon as these have been finalized the executing bodies in Venezuela will be instructed to release the funds through the PetroCaribe cooperation mechanism, which facilitates this venture. According to the provisional arrangements, every two weeks Suriname will export 4.000 metric tonnes of rice to Caracas.
The agreement with Venezuela secures new markets for Surinamese rice producers, who just last week staged a week-long protest in Nieuw Nickerie to voice their anger with the price they are being offered by local processors and exporters. During clashes between local police and demonstrating rice growers, officers used pepper spray to disperse the protesters. Eventually negotiations with the government have led to an agreement in which the government says it will subsidise the rice producers with about US$142 per hectare paddy rice.