JEFF DAVIS PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Agriculture is the no. 1 industry in Jeff Davis Parish, yet with flooding and economic issues, it's been hard times for farmers.
The Jeff Davis Economic Development Commission is honoring the developer of an export grain terminal which may have saved some farmers.
Rice is a staple in Louisiana kitchens and all over the world. Yet, with flooding and the disappointing demand of domestic markets, some Jeff Davis rice farmers have struggled to survive. But now, IFG Port Holdings' export grain terminal at the Port of Lake Charles has become a key export point for Louisiana rice.
Kabir Ahmad, of New York City, is the CEO of IFG Port Holdings. He is pleased to have helped create this opportunity for farmers in our area.
"A lot of the farmers had not previously thought that they could get access to the international export markets and we started working with them.They loaded their first export vessel and since then, over the past year, they've loaded more than 150,000 metric tons of rice and have a brand new market to sell their rice," he said.
The grain terminal here is described as state-of-the-art, with the latest equipment to move rice and other commodities from truck or rail car to ship for export. And there's a lab on-site for government testing of the grains. Ahmad calls Lake Charles one of the premier export points for rice and sees tremendous potential for growth.
"The farmers are very excited. I think they're looking forward to having an opportunity to export to Mexico, to Latin America, Central America and potentially Cuba in the future. From there sky's the limit for them," he said.
Ahmad was presented with the inaugural award of the Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development Commission at a luncheon in Welsh.
The Jeff Davis Economic Development Office plans to give the award yearly for outstanding contributions to the agriculture industry in our area.
Jeff Davis parish has more than 150 rice producers that work more than 77,000 acres of land.