President Ali has to tread carefully with this rice miller

Dear Editor,
Season’s greetings to you and all Guyana! We, the people of Essequibo Coast, have taken note of last week’s meeting between President Irfaan Ali and five rice millers from Region Five (West Berbice) and Region Two (Essequibo Coast).
We read that also present at the meeting was Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha.
It is assuring that His Excellency is taking time to be updated about our rice industry. All is not well. The pandemic, weather, and crippling bank loans, along with the young generation shying away from farming, have not been good news for Guyana. Many owe the bank, and it is bleak news, with farmers unable to restart.
We must find solutions and work together to tackle the many challenges. We note that one of the millers present at the meeting owes farmers millions of dollars, yet the Guyana Rice Development Board, in clear breach, has been issuing mill licences to his company. The laws say that licences are only issued if the miller complies with a number of conditions, including not owing farmers.
Everybody on the coast knows that this miller boasts of his connections, and has badly mismanaged his operations. He has taken loans from a bank, and instead of paying farmers, has built a mansion. He has been taking paddy from farmers and promising to pay within the time frame, but has reneged time and again.
Editor, I am a farmer who was present at the recent meeting President Ali had with rice farmers on the Essequibo Coast. The plight of the farmers with this miller was raised with the President. Tonnes of paddy, worth millions of dollars, were left to spoil on the wharf.
It is therefore puzzling that this very farmer could have the audacity to ask the Government to assist to fill a hole that he dug for himself. Poor farmers are now shedding their tears bitterly.
The bank had taken him to court to seize his vehicles, he was able to have them returned. Yet farmers continue to wait for their money, and are being told today and tomorrow. GRDB is silent, and doing absolutely nothing.
We, the farmers, are calling on the President to be careful, and not dole out money and assistance without having the full facts. Our people deserve more, and the President appears sincere in promising not to allow these corrupt practices to continue.

A Khan