first_imgOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo met with a number of rice farmers at a special meeting at the Affiance Cricket Ground on Thursday.At the meeting, farmers complained bitterly about the delay in payments by the millers. The payments they claimed take more than a year to reach them. The Opposition Leader told the gathering that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had laws in place so that rice farmers could receive their payments within a specified time, but also blamed the farmers for not signing an agreement with the millers.“You can’t take them to court, because you have nothing binding the millers,” Jagdeo stated.Farmers explained that they met with Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo speaking with rice farmers on ThursdayGeneral Manager Nizam Hassan to discuss the payment arrangements of the Panama market deal and were told that if the GRDB paid farmers before the eight-month arrangement and Panama knew this, it would delay the payments further.The Opposition Leader in response said he never heard of such nonsense and condemned the GRDB for not being honest with the farmers about the Panama market deal.The farmers also raised the issues of the blast and bug infestations, but, more importantly, the destruction of thousands of acres of rice. Farmers had no other choice but to burn the fields to control the infestation.Government, they said, is of no help to them and as such, they had reasons to picket Agriculture Minister Noel Holder at the Land of Plenty pump station openingSome of the rice farmers sharing their concerns with the Opposition Leaderbefore they could have gotten his attention.But the Minister said that he could not intervene because the rice industry was privately owned; however, he advised that the Rice Producers Association write him on the issue. Farmers are, however, appealing to the Opposition Leader to meet with the commercial banks and negotiate the rescheduling of their loans to provide some relief. Jagdeo blasted Government for neglecting rice farmers and accused it of focusing all its attention on oil. “Oil will not be forever, so we have to invest oil revenues into the other sectors to make them stable and vibrant,” the PPP General Secretary noted.He promised to raise the farmers’ concerns at his next press conference and at the 2019 Budget debate in Parliament.In ending the meeting, he is of the belief that the Government can help, but it has no plan and no vision, labelling the Ministers as the most corrupt in the Region.last_img