Rice plays a major role in the Caribbean and other diets around the world. It is the seed of monocot plants (Oryza sativa – Asian rice) and (Oryza glaberrima – African rice). Rice is classified as a cereal grain and is the third highest worldwide-produced cereal after maize (corn) and wheat. Rice is also the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake providing more than 20% of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.
Within CARICOM, rice, despite being a daily staple, is primarily produced in four countries (with Guyana and Suriname the only rice-exporting countries in CARIFORUM):
CARICOM Rice Production – Paddy (Tonnes)
|Trinidad and Tobago||2,259||2,663||2,122||2,859||2,912|
Jamaica’s production figures were below 300 tonnes each year.
According to the FAO Rice Market Monitor, rice production in Latin America and the Caribbean was expected to rise in 2015 with estimations to reap 28.5 million tonnes, almost 3 percent more than 2014. The increase, however, originated in South America, where all countries, except Argentina and Venezuela, were estimated to garner larger crops in 2015. Prospects were less buoyant in the central part of the region, which had been afflicted by a prolonged drought, causing marked output declines in Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti and Mexico.
With regard to imports, the value of CARICOM rice imports increased by 92% in a little over a decade, from USD $125 million in 2000 to USD $240 million in 2011. Haiti (49%) and Jamaica (29%) were the largest importers of milled rice equivalent in 2011, accounting for 78% of the total CARICOM rice import bill in 2011, US$117 million and US$69 million, respectively.
Why invest in rice production?
- Guyana is a major rice exporter to Jamaica and Trinidad Tobago
- Rice is Guyana’s second most exported commodity accounting for 9.4% of total exports in 2007
- The industry in Guyana benefited from a $400 million dollar investment which focused on the distribution of fertilizers, construction of drying facilities and enhancing technical assistance
- In Suriname rice generated gross export revenue of about USD $11.5 million equivalent to 1% of total export earnings
- In Haiti investments are being made in local production, processing, and storage