Shooting Guyana’s foot…

…with rice
Guyanese were, last week, informed by the head of the RPA in Berbice that less rice was planted this crop, because farmers were losing their shirts over the prices they were getting for paddy. That’s not surprising…and in fact the question that occupied your Eyewitness’s mind was why they’d kept planting at the old rate for so long. After the PNC-led APNU/AFC government let the lucrative Venezuelan market of US0/tonne slip away when they slipped into office in 2015, what was left for them??
A world market price of around US0/tonne…that’s what! And with the prices of all the inputs — pesticides, fertilisers, harvesting, ploughing and husbandry, and diesel remaining unmoved — farmers were now caught between a rock and a hard place.
The banks were the first to feel the squeeze, since the farmers just couldn’t service the loans they routinely take to tide them over from crop to crop. Loan defaults cascaded like a breeze blowing through ripe paddy fields. Bad loans had to be written off, and their bottom line turned red!
But since most farmers operate at a subsistence level, they had nowhere to turn; and for the last three crops, they’ve been holding their breaths, hoping that the market PM Nagamootoo promised them in Mexico would materialise. But like all of us, they had to exhale sometime…which seems like now. They realise Nagamootoo’s promise of 00/bag of paddy and the Mexican Market were all part of his usual mamaguy!
Nagamootoo now says he never promised 00/bag paddy, and this is a “free market,” wherein supply and demand dictate prices. Fair enough. But that’s why your Eyewitness was flummoxed to read over the weekend that the only promise Government was keeping after the closure of Wales sugar estate was to put hundreds of acres into rice!! That’s right — rice farmers, who take meticulous care of their fields to ensure average yields of 40 bags/acre, can’t survive at present prices, but Government has decided to plunge into increased rice production!!
Aren’t they going to depress prices further?? Are they trying to destroy the rice industry, just as they did with sugar?? Why else would they now compete with private rice farmers?? If anything, one would’ve thought this Government might have learnt a lesson with sugar…Centralised production just isn’t the way to go. Are they planning to repeat the PNC’s massive investment in silos, mills and all the other infrastructure necessary for rice?
Or will they purchase the ones they sold off to Alesie for a song a while back? THAT private investor abandoned rice!
But then, profits were never the raison d’etre for PNC’s policies in agri, right??

…on the environment
Donald Trump just doesn’t get it, does he? Leaders are supposed to lead, aren’t they? But all he’s concerned about is to feed his ego off the anxiety of his supporters in the sticks – who’ll blame anybody but themselves for their problems. Take the damage to the environment through excessive carbon emission. Even though companies like Exxon tried to duck the data, a government’s not like a private company — always trying to maximise shareholders’ value in the next quarterly report.
A govt has to look at the longer term. It’s not just Guyana that’ll be under water if global warming isn’t checked; so will Florida and huge swathes of NY – including Wall Street. But Trump panders to his “flat-earthers” to abandon the Paris commitments made by the Obama Administration because he’s expecting others to carry the US’ load.
Maybe they will. But countries like China and India will also steal the US’ thunder and get a headstart on the “next big thing”.
Alternative energy sources…not alternative facts!!

…at GWI
Some are wondering why Mayor Patricia Chase-Green was made Chair of GWI. Well, with the parking meters in limbo for a while, new sources of income have to be mined to placate the meter-funders from Colombia.
Their collection methods are a tad extreme!!