Guyana has denied reports that rice being shipped to the lucrative market in Panama is under threat amid allegations that the Latin American country had rejected a shipment of 20 containers of the commodity that had been rejected by Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana has denied reports that rice being shipped to the lucrative market in Panama is under threat amid allegations that the Latin American country had rejected a shipment of 20 containers of the commodity that had been rejected by Trinidad and Tobago.
General Manager of Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Nizam Hassan, said there is no threat to the local product being sold in Panama noting that the Latin American country had rejected 20 of the 100 containers because it contained the incorrect commodity.
“With regards to the effect, basically the buyer said ‘no this is not what we want; it cannot come; so take it back and send us back our rice.’ We will have to replace the rice that was not received,” said Hassan.
“The authorities understand it is a contract between the GRDB and the Institute of Agricultural Marketing in Panama they know that the GRDB itself is not a producer of rice,” Hassan said, adding that he had no knowledge of the rice being previously rejected by Trinidad and repackaged for the Panamanian market.
“We have no information of rice being shipped to Trinidad and being returned to Guyana. When rice leaves here we would have all the documents and if returned, plant quarantine would have been involved. We have no information of this happening,” Hassan said.
Hassan said there is an ongoing investigation to determine whether or not there was a deliberate effort to deceive on the part of millers or it was a genuine operational error.
“We are still investigating to identify whether it was an operational issue or whether it was a deliberate effort. I cannot comment on that because the investigation is in progress. If it was an operational issue, because from our reports thus far, the miller is using this packaging facility that bags and packages white rice and parboiled rice using the same line.
“However, we have only just received photos saying this is what we found. It does not necessarily mean that an entire container has parboiled rice, it may have been a few bags,” Hassan said, noting that systems have now been strengthened to prevent a recurrence of any similar situation.
“Let me say that all systems have been heightened with regards to inspections, quality control checks with respect to shipments to this buyer that the first thing.”
Guyana exported an estimated 540,000 tonnes of rice for 2017, surpassing the record 535,000 tonnes shipped in 2015.