… reduced earnings affecting livelihood – farmersThe ongoing financial challenges in the rice industry have forced many farmers in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) to abandon the sector and resort to cash crop cultivation. During a recent meeting with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, residents of Baiboo, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara explained that due to the current low prices for paddy, they are forced to plant cash crops. The farmers however noted that although they are resorting to cash crops, it has reduced the amount of money they can earn since there is a surplus on the market.“De greens selling cheap… then the rice farmer dem getting hardship to get price for paddy,” one farmer expressed.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo addressing residents and farmers at Baiboo, Mahaica last weekSome of the less lucrative crops identified were bora, tomatoes, pepper and ochros. Meanwhile, farmers of Mora’s Point, Mahaicony River, complained that they are finding it difficult going into the next crop since they are still owed millions by the miller in the area. After listening to their concerns, the Opposition Leader stated that Government has not done enough to assist rice farmers and to an extent, the industry.“They have some resources that could still be spent on the rice industry; the first budget they passed, they put $23 billion for the rice industry, I was happy [but] it wasn’t a cent – it was a paper transaction. They just passed the PetroCaribe funds through the budget,” Jagdeo noted.The Opposition Leader also deemed the transaction as “misleading” to the National Assembly.Ever since the collapse of the PetroCaribe rice deal with Venezuela in May 2015, farmers have been receiving between $1800 and $2500 per bag of paddy. Under the PetroCaribe agreement, farmers had received premium rates for their paddy, as much as triple what they are currently obtaining. Rice millers have reportedly claimed that they cannot pay the balances because they have not been able to sell the farmer’s paddy.When Guyana Times interviewed several farmers in Branch Road, Mahaicony last month, they reiterated calls for the Venezuela-Guyana deal to return, saying that it would increase their earnings in price per bag of paddy. The farmers had noted that for the previous few crops, they were unable to achieve any substantial profits from the industry.Family members of some farmers had also told this publication that Government subsidies on fertilisers and equipment were necessary for their survival.“We need a better price, we need some help to go back into the field, because right now it very hard on farmers, right now the millers owe we a set of money and we can’t go back into the field,” Tajwantie Ramotar had noted.Though the PetroCaribe deal was due for expiration in November 2015, Venezuela had axed the rice deal months before the official due date. Under this deal, Guyana was required to pay upfront a percentage of the cost of fuel acquired from Venezuela, with the balance, which was placed in the PetroCaribe Fund at the Bank of Guyana, being treated as a loan repayable over 23 years, with a two-year grace period and two per cent interest.
security firm: reportLondon, Jun 11 (PTI) Pakistan-born British citizen Khuram Butt, the London Bridge attack ringleader, had been trying to get a job with a security firm that provides stewards for Wimbledon and other sporting events, raising concerns whether he had considered targeting the prestigious tennis tournament.Security services and counter-terrorism police are now investigating 27-year-old Butts motive in trying to get the job with the security company, the Telegraph reported today.Citing well-placed sources, the paper said that Butt had set up the job interview with the security firm that supplies safety stewards to Wimbledon and to Premier League football clubs. The interview was scheduled to take place at the end of this month.”One possibility is Butt had considered targeting the tennis tournament but decided to speed up the plot, following the Manchester Arena bombing, and switched the attack to London Bridge,” the paper said.Butt had previously worked for six months on the London Underground until quitting in October.Although he was under lowlevel investigation by MI5 and counterterrorism police, Butt was able to get a job working at Westminster station because employers are not made aware of security services concerns when performing criminal records checks, the paper said.”The security firm would check his background but it does not have access to the police watch list or have knowledge of any MI5 investigation. There would have been no reason for him not to get the job. Butt could not only have caused serious damage but potentially helped other terrorists to get into one of these events,” the paper said, quoting a source close to the intelligence services.advertisementButt and his aides Moroccan-origin Rachid Redouane and Moroccon-Italian Yousef Zaghba rammed a high-speed van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing revellers at the nearby Borough Market, killing eight people before being shot dead by armed police officers last week.Scotland Yard last night released photographs of the fake suicide belts Butt, Redouane and Zaghba wore during the attack.The trio had attached water bottles to leather belts and covered them in silver masking tape. The belts were still being worn by them when they were shot dead by armed officers.”It is hard to speculate what the motive was for wearing the belts. It could be that they had plans to take the attack in to a siege situation or it might be that they saw it as protection from being shot themselves,” said Commander Dean Haydon, who is leading the investigation. PTI ZH AKJ ZH