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Striving to keep our rice industry at the top?Pull Quote: ?We should train our own young people to take up the mantle in the rice board. We have the talent and ability. Many times we import foreign individuals who come with prepared scripts not always entirely suited for the industry.?By Alex WayneGuyana?s rice industry has seen some turbulent times recently but is slowly returning to smooth running of its operations and worry-free relationships between millers, producers and farmers.There are significant contributors to the continuous development of the rice industry and among them is the present General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Jagnarine Singh, who is presently stationed at the industry?s Cowan Street office in Kingston, Georgetown.General Manager of the Rice Development Board, Jagnarine SinghThe rice industry has been plagued with many negative factors which in times gone by has stagnated its necessary and crucial development, but Singh can be deemed as one of the personalities who struggled and toiled as he spearheaded many ventures designed to remove those barriers.Coming from humble beginnings, where his father sold fish for a living, Singh grew up as a contented lad attending the Vryheid?s Lust/Montrose Government School,Supply NFL Jerseys, then later earned passes to Cummings Lodge Secondary where he wrote and passed eight subjects at the GCE ?O? level.Soon after he began teaching Mathematics and Physics between 1978 and 1982 at the Brickdam Secondary School, during which he also joggled studies at the University of Guyana (UG) pursuing his BSC in Agriculture. During his studies he also underwent a one-year stint in the Guyana National Service (GNS) which was mandated as part of his academic curriculum at UG.Jagnarine was less than enthused by the idea of engaging in the GNS stint but soon came to like it as it proved to be a challenging, informative venture that worked to the advantage of his studies. Above all, the programme instilled in him high levels of discipline.Soon after, in 1983, he attended the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) where he later obtained a Diploma in Agricultural Science, which assisted him greatly in his exploits as he attempted with others to bring a turnaround to the local rice industry.In 1986 he returned to UG to finish off his degree programme after which he worked for several months as an Agriculture Superintendent at the Rosehall Sugar Estate. Not liking the then ?GuySuCo culture? as he put it, Singh soon left there and took up the position of Research Assistant, attached to the National Rice Research Institute (NARI) at Burma. There he was responsible for the seed production unit.In those days, the housing facilities were not perfect at NARI, and there was not much funding, not to mention the fact that the access roads to his work place were deplorable. Intent on bringing about changes, Singh braved all these odds and continued his exploits there until 1992 after which he attended the Center for Tropical Agriculture Research in Colombia. There he pursued an extended course on rice seed production before returning to NARI the next year. This time around management made him the officer in charge of all the farm trials,Cheap Jerseys Supply, releasing of new varieties, and rice and seed testing across Guyana.During this same period, there was a change in government, and Jagnarine moved to Better Hope Village and began working in a similar field with the Rice Producers? Association with their head office located in Regent Street.Never a dull moment in the officeThere were quite a few changes in the rice industry and a number of support staff from the RPA was sent to other locations to work. Singh functioned there in the capacity of Technical Officer addressing rice production and other related issues. There he also met with rice farmers to discuss price for paddy and other pressing concerns.In those days, according to Singh,Cheap Jerseys, the relationship with rice farmers was better since the rice industry was not plagued with all the setbacks and negativity it encountered in the prior years.In 1994, Singh left the RPA and began working with the Link Rice Trading entity, exporting rice via the Other Countries and Territories (OCT) agreement which allowed them to export rice to Curacao, Aruba and Montserrat. This export arrangement was not constrained by any levy or quota and they were able to export as much as 200,000 tonnes of rice until the European Union (EU) placed restrictions on the amount exported in 1997, allowing an export of only 37,Cheap NFL Jerseys China,000 tonnes.In 1997, because of the EU restrictions, he came back to the GRDB to assist with an IDB Rice Project geared at strengthening and supporting the rice sector. Here, Singh again functioned as Research Assistant and through his impressive exploits was later promoted to Assistant Marketing Manager.During this period he also attended the University of Arkankas, USA, for two years, where he completed his Masters in Agricultural Economics. This was made possible through a scholarship from the GRDB, and at first was a major challenge to Jagnarine who felt he was at a disadvantage to be studying amongst students far younger than he was. However, he soon overcame his misgivings and guided by then professor Gail Glenmore, who advised that students undertake maximum courses for the semester,Cheap Nike Air Max Plus, did five each semester.Astonishingly, Singh, making great sacrifices and attending classes while others were relaxing, completed 14 courses in 13 months gaining 12 distinctions. Normally students were expected to complete the courses in 24 months, but by attending classes in the summer also, Jagnarine pulled off a truly tough feat.His sacrifices included late night classes, extra lectures, presentations and of course extra studies.In August 1999 he returned and began working as the second in command to then General Manager, Charles Kennard. He was asked to oversee the GRDB?s marketing arrangements.Sadly, the General Manager died in a car accident three days later, and Singh was placed in the existing void. Government ministers were among the many persons who began calling him for solutions to problems the rice industry was facing and his first initiative among others included the formation of the Rice Crisis Committee.A ?ten-point plan? was developed and taken to President Bharrat Jagdeo and was approved after discussions with millers and the Bankers? Association. As a result, several bankrupt farmers and millers rose from their financial distress.In December 1999, the rice industry lost another valuable contributor, Fazil Alli who was a Vice Chairman of the Board, leaving Singh to take things even firmer by the horns at age 38.Just around this time they were also changing from the LOME Convention, in terms of trade, to the Cotonou Agreement which made it possible for the ACP and the EU to meet annually to discuss the rice trade and Singh was in the centre of all transactions.At the first meeting in Brussels (ACP Secretariat), he was elected as Chairperson and still sits in that position, advising the ACP and EU on possible changes for the benefit of the rice industry.While they are targeting free market trade for rice to Europe it is promised that it will become reality by 2010. At meetings they pushed for EU support for the Caricom rice industry and Guyana has benefited significantly. With Singh leading the party, they lobbied for a security deposit on the licenses when exporting to Europe, and today there is a reduction because of this.He opines that his biggest achievement of all is in playing a major role with his counterparts to reclaim entry into the Jamaican market in 1997. The next year,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, some 40,000 tonnes of rice were exported to Jamaica.Of course he encountered lots of difficulties where persons contested rice quality and other issues, but he persisted in the interest of the industry. Eventually they received an MoU which dictated that as long as they certified the broken content of their rice it could be shipped to Jamaica.Singh was also instrumental in developing the Caricom Rice Standard, with the Bureau of Standards leading the way. He lobbied for the parboiled rice industry and made possible the standards which are now in place.He is also Guyana?s representative to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meetings since he came to the GRDB and still continues in this function.This tireless general manager firmly believes that it is a better choice to have Guyanese trained to function in the rice industry than to bring highly paid expatriates.?We should train our own young people to take up the mantle in the rice board. We have the talent and ability. Many times we import foreign individuals who come with prepared scripts not always entirely suited for the industry. Besides when their contracts are up they leave, thus forcing the industry to solicit added overseas services in the related areas of function.?Singh feels there is a need for a unified recommended price for Guyana?s rice, or the implementation of a recognized rice producing organization, because of obligations to the multilateral financial lending sector.Our Special Person is a proud father of three, and is well liked by his staff members with whom he shares an enviable relationship.
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