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Rejected rice again; no one is accountable, business as usual

first_imgDear Editor,Just about three months after the Panama fiasco, news of another rejected batch of exported rice – this time in Jamaica – is sending shockwaves in the industry. Every time there is a question concerning the quality and safety of Guyana’s rice in an export destination, we must be shocked and worried because such occurrences threaten the total export market. Jamaica is one of the more important export destinations for Guyana’s rice. This is not the first time that poor quality rice has been quarantined and rejected by Jamaican authorities. The rejected batch of rice in Jamaica follows a similar, but larger batch, that was exported to Trinidad and rejected and then exported to Panama and rejected. When Guyana sends poor quality and unsafe rice to any destination, it is a threat to all the markets, all thirty-five destinations that Guyana export rice and paddy to.The response from the APNU/AFC Government is business as usual, not a word of concern. Even as stakeholders in the industry express their shock, there is total silence from the Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture. The GRDB, with responsibility and oversight for rice and paddy export, is also silent. Even more worrisome is that the Agriculture Minister ignored the problem and jetted out of the country to attend what is nothing but a talk-shop food safety conference in Ethiopia, a trip costing more than $2 million. This Minister has a propensity for running away from the problems and always hiding somewhere far. His disinterest in things that impede the growth of agriculture in Guyana must flabbergast all Guyanese. Once again, Minister Holder is MIA, missing in action. This is misconduct in office.The revelation of yet another batch (more than 70 tonnes) of exported poor quality, fungus infected rice, raises serious questions and demand answers from the Minister and from the GRDB. The GRDB has a standard protocol designed to prevent the export of poor quality rice products, whether it is bulk rice, packaged rice, paddy or bran. Inspectors and testers visit the source of the rice product before it is prepared for export and then scrutinise the product before export by physical examination and testing at the wharf during the loading process. The standard protocol, therefore, requires the GRDB to certify that the rice or rice products loaded into ships for export meet all standards specified by the importing country. This is an intense, intrusive process for which the GRDB, the Ministry of Agriculture and Guyana have no apologies. It is designed to ensure that what is exported meet the specifications of the importing authorities and countries.Given the frequency of poor quality and unsafe rice being exported, the questions beg themselves: are the standard protocols still in place? If they are not being rigidly implemented, who is responsible for easing the rigidity with which these protocols are to be implemented? If they are no longer implemented, why not? What mechanism has been put in place to prevent the export of poor quality and unsafe rice and rice products? Is it now a free-for-all, where private exporters are no longer subjected to checks and balances? Has the Government abrogated its oversight and regulatory authority? Why has there not been an investigation already?In the past, as Minister of Agriculture, I visited Jamaica and other export destinations. I often met the relevant Ministers in these countries and always provided assurances that the Government of Guyana is playing an active oversight role. In instances where there might be glitches that affected the smooth export process, I ensured that I was in the loop and that the relevant GRDB officers were engaged aggressively in resolving problems, even if it meant travel to the export destinations.Just as in the Panama situation, the GRDB is already late in its response and the Agriculture Ministry and the Government are recklessly hands-off. The GRDB is accountable and must publicly address what happened and what they are doing about this latest episode which threatens the market for rice. This cannot be treated as business as usual. The farmers and the country need to see that the GRDB and the Agriculture Ministry are acting aggressively and decisively to assure the market and the farmers in Guyana that exporting of poor quality and unsafe rice and rice products will not repeat itself. The GRDB Board continues to display impotence. An independent investigation is needed immediately.Sincerely,Dr Leslie Ramsammylast_img read more

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Delta’s Liberia Passengers Will Have to Catch Flight from Accra

first_imgDelta Air Lines last week announced that it has reached agreement on what it calls “an enhanced partnership” with SkyTeam partner Kenya Airways to offer convenient connecting flights between Monrovia, Liberia, and Accra, Ghana.The services will begin effective September 1, 2014, operating three times a week on a Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Kenya Airways (KQ). The Kenya Airways flight will offer seamless and convenient connections with Delta’s nonstop flights between Accra’s Kotoka International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.“Delta has had a presence in Liberia for four years and we are pleased to be able to continue this association with the country through our new partnership with Kenya Airways,” said Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Delta recognizes the importance of offering services between Monrovia and the United States and we would like to thank the Liberian Government for its continued support. Delta remains committed to the country and facilitating travel to the U.S. with our Kenya Airways partner.”This service replaces Delta’s three-times weekly operations from Monrovia’s Roberts International Airport to Accra, Ghana. Passengers connecting onto Delta’s Accra to New York-JFK services from Kenya Airways will enjoy through check-in for their entire journey from Monrovia – collecting their boarding passes and checking in luggage from Monrovia through to their final destination in the United States.Passengers connecting in Accra will be able to proceed directly to the transit lounge, without the need to clear Ghanaian immigration, for the flight departure from Delta’s dedicated airport gates to New York. Delta staff will be on hand to ease the connecting customer process and the transit time in Accra is anticipated to be one and a half hours. SkyMiles and Flying Blue members will continue to enjoy mileage accrual and elite benefits like extra baggage allowance, priority boarding, and lounge access on both airlines.Business class passengers connecting through Kotoka International Airport will be able to access the new Sanbra Priority Lounge, which is positioned next to Delta’s airport gates, and provides customers with a luxury lounge experience prior to their flight to New York-JFK. The lounge has capacity for 108 people with leather seating, free Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks and a wide variety of soft and alcoholic drinks, as well as televisions and shower facilities.Delta’s sales office will remain open in Liberia and continue to sell tickets to the U.S. The airline will also continue selling tickets from the U.S. to Liberia.Kenya Airways’ Regional General Manager for West Africa, America, Europe & Asia Pacific, Julius Thairu said: “This strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines enhances our presence in West Africa and cements our position as Africa’s premier airline. By providing a seamless connection from Liberia to Delta’s Accra to New York service, it significantly boosts Kenya Airways’ efforts to link Africa to the rest of the world. This will provide our guests from Africa with an additional efficient and convenient connection to the U.S. on Delta Air Lines. It ties in with our long-term growth strategy to increase our footprint across the world.”The Monrovia-Accra-New York schedule will leave Monrovia at 18:00 and arrive at 20:00 and arrive in Accra at 20:00. Thereafter, it leaves Accra at 22:35 and arrives at  05:13.Delta’s daily services between Accra and New York are operated with a Boeing 767-300 aircraft with 225 seats, comprising 25 seats in BusinessElite, 29 in Premium Economy and 171 seats in Economy.Once onboard, passengers in the BusinessElite cabin will enjoy forward-facing seats that convert to a 180-degree fully flat-bed and offer direct aisle access in a 1x2x1 configuration.  Delta has also invested in its economy class with seats that provide additional legroom, adjustable headrests, personal in-seat entertainment screens with over 350 films, 250 TV shows, 100 hours of HBO, 4,500 songs and 30 games and USB power at each seat. All Economy passengers will be provided with a complimentary amenity kit to improve their flight experience.Delta Air Lines operates services to four African cities in four countries. The airline has grown from 22 weekly departures to and from Africa in December 2006 to 29 in summer 2014.Passengers travelling from Liberia can book flights to the U.S. on Delta and Kenya Airways via travel agents and Delta’s dedicated reservations teams in Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more