THE rice industry impacts Guyanese positively in both social and economic ways; as rice is served as a main part of our daily menu, and its production accounts directly and indirectly for the employment of many.The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) notes that harvesting of the second rice crop for 2016 will commence shortly, and has said that as the industry prepares once again to produce this vital staple, production must be supported by standards and accurate measurements.
The Bureau says the high production of quality rice must be maintained if Guyana is to hold on to its share of the international market and penetrate new markets.
“In addition, because rice is a food commodity, good production practices also have to be maintained to safeguard the health and safety of consumers of the commodity. The implementation and use of standards is very important, and can be considered essential for addressing quality issues in the rice industry,” the GNBS underscored.
“For many products and services, standards improve quality, facilitate local and foreign trade, improve industrial efficiency, protect consumers’ health and safety, ensure reliable and accurate weighing and measuring practices and equipment, improve packaging and labelling, and protect the environment,” the Bureau has pointed out.
The Bureau added that the CARICOM Standard–Specification for Rice is available for use by stakeholders in the rice industry. It prescribes the requirements for the grades of paddy, cargo rice, milled rice, cargo parboiled rice, and milled parboiled rice. The agency that regulates this standard is the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), which routinely conducts checks at rice mills countrywide to ensure that those are in compliance with available requirements.
In addition, the GRBD Central Laboratory is internationally accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 Standard, which specifies competency to carry out testing. This accreditation is a huge advantage for the industry, as the quality of rice can be determined locally by the Central Laboratory, and results it generates are accepted internationally.
The GNBS explained that labelling and packaging of rice are also important, particularly to consumers and larger buyers. The national standard for the labelling of prepackaged foods, GYS 9-9: 2003, is a useful guide for millers when labelling rice bags and other packages.
Further, implementation of internationally recognized Management Systems Standards such as the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems Requirements and the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems Requirements with Guidance for use can be order winners for rice millers and exporters.
The technical support needed to implement the requirements of these standards can be provided by the GNBS at very affordable costs. The GNBS, as the National Metrology Institute and possessor of the National Measurement Standards, ensures that measuring devices used in the rice industry are accurate and reliable. Verification of these devices, including weighbridge scales, platform scales, hopper scales and smaller laboratory scales, is conducted periodically by the Bureau.
This provides equity and traceability of measurements for rice offered for sale locally and on overseas markets.
To support the prosperity of the rice industry, the GNBS noted, it will continue to work with farmers, millers, exporters and the GRDB to develop, promote and implement standards that would benefit the industry.