Rice exports top 400,000 tonnes
Rice export for this year will likely reach over 500,000 tonnes, Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy has said.
Dr Ramsammy said the amount of rice exported so far this year is 401,000 tonnes and there is still 137,000 tonnes left to be exported by the end of 2014.
“That was supposed to be the production in 2020, but that is now the export. Some of you who have followed the story that in January we were being attacked, that we can’t sell our rice, the truth is that we better have a minimum of 160,000 tonnes on hand, because during January, February and March, we have no production as rice is still growing,” Dr Ramsammy said.
In 2013, rice export accounted for about 395,000 tonnes and approximately 58 per cent of the rice was exported to Venezuela with other significant buyers being Europe, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries.
Dr Ramsammy has said Guyana’s rice export market will be able to survive in the eventuality the PetroCaribe rice for oil agreement with neighbouring Venezuela falls through.
The Minister also noted that the Government through the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) and other agencies has been assiduously working to acquire additional markets.
Dr Ramsammy told Guyana Times in a recent interview that everything is moving according to plan and the contract with the Panamanian Government should follow through without any hiccup.
Since the start of October 2014, 5000 tonnes of rice has been exported to Panama under the rice shipment deal signed between Guyana and Panama late August.
A recent article in the Jamaica Observer says Jamaica and the Caribbean need to prepare stress tests that include the halt of the PetroCaribe oil arrangement with Venezuela.
Experts think that the dip in the price of oil from US$100 to its current US$82.70 a barrel can remain for 2015. That could result in the oil exports from Venezuela declining by US$15 to US$20 billion annually, reasoned Alejandro Werner, Director, Western Hemisphere Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF), at the 2014 High-Level Caribbean Forum under the theme “Unlocking Economic Growth,” in Montego Bay.
“That might trigger obviously either an important policy adjustment in Venezuela that might imply some adjustment with PetroCaribe,” he explained. Already, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is under pressure to re-examine the PetroCaribe arrangement. The Bolivar Fuerte currency declined sharply against its US counterpart, inflation is even higher than usual and US-based Standard & Poor’s downgraded Venezuelan bonds to junk status.
Maduro’s Government has imposed foreign currency restrictions in an attempt to achieve economic stability, but this only angered citizens to protest.
“In the case in which there is more volatility in Venezuela, there might be disruptions in the programme and countries should continue to prepare contingency plans in this event,” Werner said.
Since 2005, Governments across the region entered into the PetroCaribe arrangement, a deferred oil payment deal with oil-producing Venezuela.
“But now the distribution of probabilities have shifted to the left and you should be more careful than before and stress-test your precautionary frameworks because maybe the scenario we have been dreading for the last few years may be realised,” warned Werner.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Caribbean to achieve growth rates into 2015 that are sub-par to the wider Latin American region.
Werner reasoned that the dip in the price of oil will benefit much of the region’s current accounts, so long as it does not inadvertently lead to the end of the PetroCaribe arrangement.