Farmers calling on GRDB as miller owes millions

Wakenaam rice farmers’ woes

More than 35 rice farmers of Wakenaam Island, Essequibo are crying out to the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for assistance as a miller is failing to pay millions of dollars owed to them.
The miller, Wazim Hoosein, of Jaichand, Essequibo, reportedly purchased millions of dollars in paddy from the farmers in March and is yet to pay his debt.
As such, the farmers are now left “stagnant” and cannot proceed with the next rice crop until the money is paid to them.
Speaking with Guyana Times, the farmers revealed that currently, their lands have been ploughed, but they are awaiting payment to purchase fertilisers, to pay bills and to pay their workers.
These rice farmers are lamenting the “advantage” being taken of them, as they have contacted Hoosein on numerous occasions, but the miller was now ignoring their calls.
They are calling on Hoosein to make his payments urgently, as their livelihood is at stake and further, are calling on the GRDB to look into the issue.
However, when this publication made contact with Hoosein, the miller – upon hearing that the farmers have reached out to this newspaper – ended the call and could not be reached again.
The agricultural sector in Wakenaam, the major driver of its economy, has been hard hit in recent times by payment issues, floods and diseases. Only late last month, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) announced that it has approved the sum of $7.5 million to battle disease and pest infestation plaguing the coconut industry in Wakenaam which solved one issue for the island’s farming community. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategy, which commenced this month, seeks to increase the level of productivity in the coconut industry, which of recent has seen a major decline.
Other farmers are now starting to rebuild after suffering major losses following devastating flooding caused by the May-June rains.