Region 3 rice farmers defrauded close to $500M

first_imgThe lives of over 50 rice farmers of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) are now hanging in the balance following the fraudulent activities of the Chairman of the Ruimzeigt Rice Industry Limited, who is also the director of some 28 other rice companies.As such, the rice farmers from the West Coast and West Bank of Demerara, Essequibo, Leguan and Wakenaam on Tuesday joined hands as they picketed the Ruimzeigt Rice Industry Limited, West Coast Demerara (WCD) calling for Chairman Turhane Doerga to pay some $500 million owed to them.Some of the workers in the rice fieldPicketing actions are being taken after the farmers received what they called “the last straw”, that is, bounced cheques. These cheques were presented to them by an investor who they claim is just a face being used by Doerga to carry out his “fraudulent activities”.Guyana Times understands that after not receiving payments since 2016, Doerga was taken to the High Court which ordered that he pay all outstanding debts.According to Balram Seeraj, Secretary of the Rice Producers Association (RPA), the unpaid farmers have recently received a favourable judgement against Doerga and his son Vijay Doerga. However, it has been difficult to get them to pay up as the Doerga’s owns a number of companies and are dodging farmers.Documents seen by this publication show the name of some 28 different companies, and as such, the farmers are uncertain who to contact for their monies.“In the process of taking the court action, it was found out that a number of companies are operating out of these complexes and it is difficult to ascertain which company owns the assets in order for you to go against that specific company and the assets of that company to get your money,” Seeraj explained.One of the investors, Andre Poonai, of the Golden Grains Investment, when taken to court in November of last year, informed the farmers that he was unable to pay them as a result of issues he encountered with the companies he purchased from Doerga.Doerga reportedly visited the farmers and introduced Poonai as the new operator of the companies, this they call a regular ploy to give them new hope that payment will come soon.“The ploy of this operator is to go after fresh victims every season without paying the old farmers that they owe and they seem to be succeeding. They come with a lot of sweet talks and bring news face, some of whom look foreign and saying that they have sold out the places and that these new faces will be making payments to us,” the Secretary revealed.Poonai also reportedly issued cheques for millions of dollars which all bounced.As such, the struggling farmers, some of whom are unable to work due to lack of finances are calling on Doerga to pay his debt as they called for the intervention of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).“Everytime is a kinda promise and then is another six months you got to wait. One time he supposed to get loan from the bank and then he say that he got somebody line up to come buy the mill, that was fake also,” one angry protester explained.Another said “twenty eight hundred dollars per bag, he did not want me to take the paddy to someone else, he keep promising me payment and promising me to take the paddy right over here, now this man cut me off”.This newspaper had previously reported back in July of 2017, the rice farmers would receive all payments.That was the promise from the General Manager of GRBD, Allison Peters who had noted that the Board will continue to monitor the situation.However, to date, there has been no change in the situation and the farmers have revealed that they are losing faith in the ability of the Board.last_img

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